Anohni Paradise EP Rough Trade
As the rising swells of political division reared-up into a wave of poisonous polarisation in 2016, ‘the News’ morphed from being wince-inducing to terrifying and traumatic. The temptation to withdraw could be overwhelming. But the core message of Anohni’s Hopelessness – a sentiment inscribed on the album artwork – was: ‘don’t look away’.
Hopelessness was an astonishingly articulate political critique, a wail of anguish, and a fizzling musical collaboration between Anohni’s unique songwriting and vocal style, and the righteous production of Hudson Mohawke and Oneohtrix Point Never. Titled Paradise, Anohni’s follow-up EP is a companion piece that picks up the lyrical themes of her previous album – personal, spiritual and political struggle – and scatters their ashes across unrelenting production: darkly melodic, but ultimately caustic and unsettling. The title track welds a brittle but booming rhythm to Anohni’s despairing call-to-arms, and the stark, apocalyptic Jesus Will Kill You is a fiery, unforgiving rebuke to the cosy, warped moral assumptions of the self-appointed protectors of Western democracy: ‘burning oil fields, burning hope…your wealth predicated on the poverty of others,’ she sings. Maybe it goes without saying, but Paradise is a grim and intense listen. And for this reason, there will be those who understandably wonder whether that’s really what they need right now. But if Paradise isn’t an easy record, it is an important one. Post-Trump, Anohni’s message is even more potent. Don’t look away.