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Antony and the Johnsons (Album) brings the best out of lead singer's Antony Hegarty's soulful and desperately tragic voice, which has a resonance that flows and continues to pull the listener into his world. As a glutton for poetic misery, this album is like a chocolate box selection of fairy-tale like piano compositions, which have a light and almost ethereal feel to them. Obscure titles such as 'Cripple and the Starfish' and 'Hitler in my Heart' are accompanied by even more obscure lyrics. Sometimes you're not really sure what Antony is going on about, but you sure as hell know it's painful, and you should be wistfully looking outside a rainy window with empathetic sentiments. In this it is done well, without the shallowness that many young writers and singers seem to attain when trying to compose meaningful songs- the voice conveys experience that keeps the album away from the depths of self-indulgence or the ridiculous. Although many may find Antony and the Johnsons movingly depressing (which they are, but in a very, very good way), I find the easy-listening nature of the album means it is also very pleasant to listen to as background music, and as other reviewers have noted, there is an essence of hope that permeates through the songs. As a person who adores this album, I almost feel a little resentful over having to share the goodness that Antony provides so beautifully, and hope that their unique style is not corrupted by popularity. Disregarding personal selfishness, I implore others to go out and love this album too, and wish that anyone else who has the privilege of buying this brilliant piece of work also treasures it appropriately. Happy (or maybe not) listening!
This album has duly been given a lot of hype and critical acclaim after winning Brits and the Mercury Prize off the back of this album, Anthony and The Johnsons made the big time with this album. The cover art is ahem visually different and definitely stands out ahem. A little thought provoking as well. I think Anthony and The Johnsons quite rightly got a lot of acclaim on the back of this record. On first hindsight this album has some weird titles and this record one of the best of the year from when it was released. A very short album given that it's only nine songs but almost every one of them is perfection. I think Twilight a album opener that has your attention in seconds, a great opening hook and a great start to a ballad centered mid tempo original album. Cirpple and the Star fish is quite thought-provoking and stands out and i think the chorus was absolutely. I think Hitler in my Heart, i think the verses are very emotional and it's quite a ironic amusing song really. Atocities, is different and i think the production needs some work on this - sounds a bit rushed. Rapture, is so out there and it sounds completely different to anything else, i think it's fantastic. Deeper than Love, is done really well in being a stand out album song and should have been a single surely, i think the vocals are particularly strong on this. Divine, is one of the songs i wasn't sure of at the start about this one, but its a grower. Blue Angel is a masterpiece and a superb and ample way to end a album like this. This album is redefining and it sets a good career bump to Anthony and the Johnsons. I did find it all abit depressing really but it has quality and i recognize that but i dont see me seeing this being one i'd put on when i was feeling happy or sad, just when i had to listen to it. It's quality but not my taste!
Again I feel like I've hit the jackpot with the albums I've got to review this week - with tonight's review of the ridiculously good self titled release from Antony and the Johnsons. For a band that a lot of people haven't even heard of, they're doing pretty well in terms of album sales and fans, attracted by the fact that the sound of this group is absolutely unique. I suppose to my untrained ear they would best be described as a jazz act? According to a couple of the reviews I've read on the group in general they're described as a vehicle for lead singer Antony Hegarty. True, his painfully beautiful bluesy voice is captivating. He sounds like a cross between an opera singer and one of the Supremes and his husky tones and vocal strength are enough to take away the breath of the listener. I'm a fan of hyperbole in general, but he really is that good. That said, the beautiful chamber orchestra sound on this record adds a rich layer to his virtuoso performance and in a sense fills in the silence between the snippets of lyrical genius. In my opinion, any band that has a cellist deserves a review! In addition to the usual instruments, there are some beautiful contributions from the cello, other strings and the sax. The subject material is stirring stuff, with themes of pain, destruction, rebirth and gender confusion and homosexuality. Hegarty can take the most provocative subject material, the darkest facets of the human heart and misery and find a hidden beauty or hope for the future. The line from 'Hitler in my Heart' captures this perfectly: 'I find Hitler in my heart, from the corpses flowers grow'. The album is full of gems like this and it's all you can do not to weep at times. Every minute on this album is a charm. Please buy it, regardless of your usual musical predelictions.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 Cripple and the starfish
3 Hitler in my heart
5 River of sorrow
7 Deeper than love
9 Blue angel