Anomie Belle – Flux
The dozen songs on Anomie Belle’s album Flux are quite unlike anything you’ve heard. This sort of statement is typically hyperbole. Public relations people, record companies, this is their language. Every once in a while, however, it isn’t just hype. It’s easy to view the modern era as diminished times. Articles emerge about studies citing the decline of melody in popular music, our cinemas are glutted with remakes and reboots, iconic artists rely on their back catalogs to remain relevant and no longer break new ground or overturn convention. Artists like Anomie Belle, in this world, immediately stand out. Her gloriously emotive and otherwise unique vocals are the key point setting everything off on Flux, but they are far from the only attraction. These are songs with varied worth and a broad based sound capable of surprising listeners at every turn.
The album opens with “Saturday Gives”. Strings open the song, showing off Belle’s classical training, before the quasi-classical sound meets a lightly defined trip hop approach colored with equally tasteful electronica. Belle’s voice has an unearthly quality with effects laid on in post production that bring added atmosphere, but never overwhelm melody or performance. The trip hop colors in her palette widen with the next two songs. The first, “Right Way”, has a bubbling tempo that’s spaced out at a good pace without ever overwhelming the listener with an accompanying vocal that leans more towards sensitivity than it does ostentatious displays of vocal prowess. The tempo is a little more intense and cluttered on the second song, “As We Are”, but the vocal is much more pronounced than on the earlier track. Belle’s voice is never overly theatrical, but she does know how to dramatize the lyrical content without ever succumbing to self-defeating melodrama.
The middle of the album moves into a much artier vein than the earlier songs. There’s nothing on this album that’s pure commercial pop, but the Flux’s earlier tracks don’t take bead on the same goals that emerge here in the middle. “Unwind” ushers listeners into this new approach and there’s a much more pensive, considered quality infusing the song compared to previous efforts. The first single from Flux, “Lovers”, has a jarring, slightly disjointed groove, but it’s undeniable pattern that moves the listener in unusual ways. One expects certain patterns and beats, but Belle challenges that. Instead, she lays down inventive new grooves, idiosyncratically her own, and anyone giving the album a spin will likely be compelled to follow. “As Summer Bleeds Daylight” is the album’s artistic summit. The lyrical content here shows an added depth not found on earlier tracks and the atmospherics are real without ever being too artificially cinematic or theatrical.
The final incandescent moment on the album, “The Good Life”, is the only example on Flux of a straight ahead solo performance, Belle accompanied by only piano, but the winding melody line takes unusual turns that aren’t so far removed from listener’s lexicons that it won’t connect with its potential audience. There is great feeling and technique alike on Anomie Belle’s Flux, but the musicality is natural and never feels too constructed. There is a sure hand guiding these songs and her spirit charges them with life quite unlike anyone.
9 out of 10 stars.