Review Summary: Chicken soup for the hipster's soul...
Autre Ne Veut, or Arthur Ashin to his mother, is a pop-centric, avant-garde, R&B singer/producer from Brooklyn who up until this latest release Anxiety
, dabbled more in the ambient arts. Eschewing that in favor of a more personal brand of R&B, the man certainly has an ear for song structure and through the combination of twinkly synths, retro R&B hooks, and his own airy pipes, does a very good job of actualizing his vision. The unique styling of Anxiety
sadly makes for a niche audience at best. Even so, people who give these silky, sugar-coated tunes a spin are in for at least, a very interesting listen.
It should be noted that while these are indeed R&B songs at their core, and even though the year is 2013, partying and big booty bitches are nowhere to be found here. Instead, Anxiety’s
lyrical themes, and in many ways the music, deal with the mundane anxieties of life. As the man himself puts it:
“Having a life with other people, having ambitions, and trying to exist in the world, and get things done, and love people, and feel loved. All the stresses that come along, at least for me, with that.
The personal tone Autre Ne Veut is conveying is portrayed well in his music. Songs like “Gonna Die” and “Ego Free Sex Free” come across as fine examples of this theme. Both songs come across as exceedingly personal and self-aware in a way practically extinct from R&B today. Enhancing the experience are some top-notch production techniques and a generous variety of instrumentation. Each of the first three songs on the record have catchy distinct intros, each of which lead into and fit their respective songs like a glove. Once into the songs, some interesting musical ideas are employed, and for the most part pulled off. The crunchy guitar backdrop in “Warning”, the dreamy intro to the record “Play by Play”, and especially the hard drone in the closer “World War” all prove Ashin has a penchant for not only music, but sound
and fortunately possesses the skill to blend them together very well.
Even with this unique display in the musical facet, the focus of Anxiety
are the vocals. It’s not hard to infer from the bouts of vocal runs and constant pitch shifting throughout each song that Mr. Ashin loves his voice. This is both a boon and bane for the record as the vocals are indeed well executed and are the deserved driving force behind the record, but there’s no power behind his voice at all. The airy delivery quickly gets tiresome and on more than one occasion, keeps songs from reaching their full potential. Despite this, stand out performances like the near supersonic pitch he reaches in “Gonna Die” inject that soulful feeling prevalent in the record. It is the use of his voice rather than the actual sound of it that completes this record.
is based on, and ultimately succeeds through, two staples, well produced and organized instrumentation and beats, and how the vocals are utilized. Autre Ne Veut has made essentially a very smart record, accomplished though superb mixing and production. Not meant to be delved into, this album is best enjoyed casually but with all that’s going on, from the multiple layers of music to the underlying theme, musical treasure hunters can find plenty of jewels here.