ANOHNI
HOPELESSNESS


2.0
poor

Review

by Arcade STAFF
May 10th, 2016 | 683 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Rockism and poptimism, bastardized.

Hopelessness sounds like that dreaded intersection between rockism and poptimism; that is, where music is elevated both because of its self-righteous purpose and its propensity towards likable hooks. Think about it; a serious attempt to marry political rhetoric with music that might otherwise be described as disposable or throwaway. Lesser minds would refer to it as subversion, as if by merit, any attempt to exist outside of what is considered normal is an automatic attempt to undermine the accepted pop music structures. Anohni, though gifted, falls victim to this idealism, and constructs Hopelessness as something so devoid of intelligence or fun that it seems almost unprecedented to praise her for singing about death by drone strikes. She doesn't actually address the implications of it as such, instead writing clunky observations about what it might be like to be on the receiving end of Western aggression. But then criticizing Anohni for having a political purpose is unfair, and to say that her message is the problem with her album isn't addressing the actual problem; it's terrible delivery. The idea that one might be able to enjoy music regardless of its lyrical content is thrown into peril when Anohni makes it clear she intends to beat you over the head with the droning of her achingly simplistic lexicon. Accordingly, Hopelessness is marked by its excessively guilt-ridden navel-gazing, unable to divorce itself from any surface level aesthetic it seems keen to emphasize in the interest of being an overt political rant.

Most of Hopelessness attempts to mix politicized sentiment to danceable music and rarely succeeds. Deliriously silly though its lyrics are, "4 Degrees" stands out as a most obvious success, arguing the complicit nature of human consumption in relation to global warming whilst also presenting itself as a melodically engaging piece of synthpop. That overwrought contemplation is rife, though, and Anohni's infrequent distractions from it leave most of her songs to sound like what they are; lyrically overwritten and hookless compositions. At its worst, as in "Obama", she voices naive disappointment in the assumption that the neoliberal polices of the 45th president were the first time anybody was ever blindsided by a politician's false promises. All of that wouldn't be an issue were it not for how her vocals, so dramatically calling attention themselves, put every word in stark contrast to the beat. It problematizes highlights like "Drone Bomb Me", which, though elevated by Hudson Mohawke's customarily club-ready production, is left to sound so very cringy with a refrain that unironically exclaims, 'blow my head off / explode my crystal guts.' In being so obvious and direct, she betrays the central thesis of subversion; namely, the music isn't fun to listen to. At its core, that's the very problem with Hopelessness' desperate attempts at political sloganeering, as every opportunity that Anohni has to bolster such wonderful Oneohtrix Point Never bangers with confrontationally political sentiment, she manages to reduce it to platitudes and a remarkably poor vocabulary. To the extent that we can commend a class tourist, Hopelessness is admirable. However, without subtleties and seemingly proud of it, it is not the subversive statement it strives to be. Instead, it wallows in obvious answers, unable to defeat its enemies as much as paint mediocre caricatures. This is pop music, made to seem intelligent without the substance to assert its claims.



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user ratings (183)
Chart.
2.9
good
other reviews of this album
SpeakSound (4)
ANOHNI confronts modern humanities’ destructive nature on her newest release “Hopelessness” wi...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Arcade
Staff Reviewer
May 10th 2016


8449 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Anohni, Hopelessness: https://open.spotify.com/album/3dAx4u7AJy72a6M1ms6uYF



"4 Degrees": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fi0q0O4V5Qs



"Drone Bomb Me": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Pei4SnavUk



feedback appreciated. 1.9/5

Digging: Fever Ray - Plunge

Keyblade
May 10th 2016


24980 Comments


"Drone Bomb Me"

lol wow

Arcade
Staff Reviewer
May 10th 2016


8449 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

yeah subtlety ain't this album's strong point

Idleness
May 10th 2016


459 Comments


riffs on drone bomb me tho

hal1ax
May 10th 2016


9157 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

ya i did not enjoy this

good review

RadicalEd
May 10th 2016


8575 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

hot garbage from what I heard.

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
May 10th 2016


16353 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

You wanted subtlety from this dude(ette)?



Also how do I pronounce that name - Ah-no-nee? Ah-nonny? An-on-aaaigh? Anthony?



Only listened to this twice but found some of it pretty interesting I gotta say. He's already done one album too many of ballads so had to be anything but that

Digging: Cathal Coughlan - The Sky's Awful Blue

Frippertronics
Contributing Reviewer
May 10th 2016


15063 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

aaah no knee

Digging: Shiina Ringo - Kalk Samen Kuri no Hana

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
May 10th 2016


16353 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Painful - sounds the name of a true artist

brandontaylor
May 10th 2016


593 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Anohni goes by she and its offensive to imply she's a dude.



Anyway this album definitely lacks subtlety but that's the point, even if it goes overboard sometimes (for example the name-dropping of other countries in Execution). Drone Bomb Me may not make some greater point about the issue its about, but it at least draws attention to it, and the song itself is beautiful. I get some of the criticisms but not the one about terrible delivery, I would've thought the two agreed-upon things about the album are that Anohni sounds fantastic and that the production is great.

Arcade
Staff Reviewer
May 10th 2016


8449 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

at least draws attention to it


see, i can't get on board with this at all. Anohni, for all her tribulations, is not a victim of america's extensive- and yes, horrific- drone bombing campaign. the fact that she's taken it upon herself to envision what it's like to be one of those people involves a certain degree of extrapolation which is naturely offensive, as it plays into ideas of postcolonial imperialism and the 'white savior' mentality.



of course, as i said, i don't think it's fair to judge this on the morality of her sentiment, and as you've said, you like the delivery, so it doesn't necessarily matter if you did/didn't agree with what she says. i just don't think that much of this is constructed well enough for me to ignore it. the lyrics are poor, and the production, though often great, does not distract from the lyrics that much. and so i find listening to this to be little more than a condescending political lecture from somebody who doesn't sound very intelligible on the situations she's chosen to pontificate on (which, given her highly articulate interviews, is obviously not the case).



not meaning to get into some blase political exchange over the matter but i just don't think the delivery is there for me to look beyond/not consider the lyrical content.

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
May 10th 2016


16353 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

She was a he on the previous albums was where I was coming from in terms of historical context referring to past work



He's now a she and I get that.

p4p
May 10th 2016


1959 Comments


the vox reminds me of Antony and The Johnsons

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
May 10th 2016


16353 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Masculine voice?

Gyromania
May 10th 2016


23420 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

This album is the biggest load of self-righteous, presumptuous, PC-bandwagoning dogshit I've heard all year. I like 4 degrees a lot, but it seems weaker now in the context of the album.



Will read the review shortly

p4p
May 10th 2016


1959 Comments


oh its the same person, nvm then.

"Anohni goes by she and its offensive to imply she's a dude."

not everyone knows about her past u hyper sensitive bellend

theBoneyKing
May 10th 2016


12911 Comments


I was interested in checking this out so I tried "4 Degrees" and after about 15 seconds I was like lol no

Digging: The Delgados - Hate

Gyromania
May 10th 2016


23420 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Gotta watch out dude, people love to snap on others over inconsequential shit like that

Gyromania
May 10th 2016


23420 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

4 degrees is easily the best song here

brandontaylor
May 10th 2016


593 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@arcade i agree that the singing from a victim's perspective is a little problematic, but i think the purpose is to shock the listener and make them think about the issue and it succeeds at that. i think that she asks the audience to think critically about issues rather than do it herself on the album and that understandably could hamper one's enjoyment of the record, but it doesn't for me.



@doofus it's probably best to use she to refer to any of anohni's past work regardless of her pronouns/identification at the time, all good tho



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