Antony and the Johnsons
I Am A Bird Now


4.5
superb

Review

by Andrew H. EMERITUS
December 28th, 2005 | 33 replies | 12,499 views


Release Date: 2005 | Tracklist


Antony and the Johnsons return in 2005 with I Am A Bird Now, the follow up to their self-titled debut, released in 2000. Preceeded by a number of EPs, I Am A Bird Now shows a different approach to the band's first record.

Antony and the Johnsons
Antony - Vocals, Piano, Organ
Julia Kent - Cello
Todd Cohen - Drums
Jeff Langston - Bass
Joan Wassen - Viola
Maxim Moston - Violin

From the opening track of I Am A Bird Now, it's obvious that it is a much more quiet and intimate record than the band's self titled album. I Am A Bird Now is essentially an album of quiet, piano based ballads that feature Antony's voice in a very prominent way. Featuring a number a guests, most of them being friends of Antony, the record brings together a "who's who" of Alternative music. Devendra Banhart, Rufus Wainwright and Boy George all make appearances, while Lou Reed's spiraling guitar and spoken word contribution to "Fistful of Love" is a true highlight. Central to I Am A Bird Now is Antony's ambiguous sexuality. Lyrically, the album focuses on struggle through relationships and indentity issues. "For Today I Am A Boy" is an obvious struggle with identity, while "Hope There's Someone" is a plea for human companionship. Like Devendra Banhart (one of Antony's friends), Antony's strongest asset is by far his songwriting. Musically, the arrangements are nothing short of perfect, while lyrically, I Am A Bird Now is incredibly personal.

"Hope There's Someone" opens the album and sets the tone for the rest of the record. Just seconds in, the track showcases Antony's incredible vocal technique. His voice is one of the most transparent, beautiful and unique voices in modern music. The musical arrangements that dominate I Am A Bird Now are beautiful, heartbreaking and often complex. Using a variety of instruments, the instrumentation often shines on it's own, despite the fact that it generally only really is used to augment Antony's voice and piano. Despite the wide range of instruments on offer, I Am A Bird Now is primarily a sparse and quiet record. Album highlight and centrepiece "Fistful of Love" features the most dominating musical performance, as well as building from Lou Reed's excellent guitar work. Like most of the songs on the album, "Fistful of Love" features depressing lyrics and subject matter, while being ultimately uplifting and hopeful. In fact, just about every song on I Am A Bird, lyrically and musically, is like this. "For Today I Am A Boy", for example, deals with wanting to be someone else. Lyrically, the song is depressing, as is the musical arrangement, but injected with a great deal of hope. "You Are My Sister" is simply one of the most beautiful songs ever written.

I Am A Bird Now is one of the most beautiful, personal and heartbreaking records of 2005. With his operatic voice, deeply emotional lyrics and hard to decipher character, Antony is one of the most unique characters to hit the music scene in quite a while. Undoubtedly one of the best albums of the year.

Pros
Beautiful singing and lyrics
Great instrumentation
Incredible lyrics

Cons
Some tracks are over shadowed by others

Reccomended Tracks
Hope There's Someone
You Are My Sister
Fistful of Love

FINAL RATING: 4.5/5



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Med57
Moderator
December 28th 2005



1001 Comments


Woah, this hadn't been reviewed yet? I was convinced that it had been...anyway, very good review (as usual), of a really interesting album. I was very pleased when it won the Mercury Music Prize, as it's incredibly original, and has a special feel to it, really. Did you say you were going to see them live?

Zebra
Moderator
December 28th 2005



2647 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I know this is a good album but I can't seem to get into as much as other people. While I enjoy most of the songs something seems to be missing but I don't know what it is.

Good review as usual.

br3ad_man
Emeritus
December 28th 2005



2125 Comments


Did you say you were going to see them live?


Yeah, assuming my Mum will come along.

analrightstart
December 28th 2005



96 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is a brilliant album. Hope theres someone, and Man is the baby are my favourites. Antony's voice is like no other

br3ad_man
Emeritus
January 19th 2006



2125 Comments


I saw Antony last night. Most amazing show I've been to.

Iai
Emeritus
January 19th 2006



3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

For once, Pitchfork was right. "Hope There's Someone" was the best single of '05.

br3ad_man
Emeritus
January 19th 2006



2125 Comments


Yeah, pretty much. I reckon this is the best album of 05.

Rockafella
January 22nd 2006



88 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Deep, rich, and stunningly beautiful.

masada
February 1st 2006



2733 Comments


I love his voice. Beautiful stuff.

Haven't come to terms on a rating, though.

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
February 18th 2006



2806 Comments


At first I thought it was a male Cher. Now I love it.

STLMiguel
May 22nd 2006



335 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I was going to review this, but I don't need to now that I've read this!

This album is incredible.

FA
May 25th 2006



127 Comments


I checked out Antony and the Johnsons a while back and for some reason wasn't too driven to give them a chance. I feel compelled now to check this album out.This Message Edited On 05.25.06

FA
May 25th 2006



127 Comments


EDIT: Double post >.This Message Edited On 05.25.06

EDIT2: ok, so I gave them a listen and now I actually and thoroughly enjoy them. Although his voice throws you a little, you get used to it I think. After seeing a picture of him on their website and listening to his voice...I sat in awe at the comparison. Oh well, good music.This Message Edited On 05.27.06

masada
May 31st 2006



2733 Comments


I wish I had his voice. Either his, or Jeff Mangum's.

Still a fabulous album.

br3ad_man
Emeritus
June 1st 2006



2125 Comments


His is so much better. Because it is actually good.

Sepstrup
July 28th 2006



1563 Comments


Is Rufus Wainwright singing along in one of these songs?

Sepstrup
July 28th 2006



1563 Comments


They're playing near me, but it's like 50$.

br3ad_man
Emeritus
August 1st 2006



2125 Comments


I'd go if you can afford it. They do a great show.

Sepstrup
September 21st 2006



1563 Comments


Thought I heard him. I didn't like this at first, but now I find it quite remarkable.

Anthracks
January 1st 2009



3670 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i need to get this i love antony's voice on hercules



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