BEST OF 2016

MAGNET’s #24 Album Of 2016: ANOHNI’s “Hopelessness”


2016 was a good year for protest records, and none was more bitter or more beautiful than Hopelessness. It’s a reinvention album: Antony Hegarty rechristened herself ANOHNI and eschewed the piano-based art songs of her former band Antony And The Johnsons, instead embracing somber electronics created in collaboration with Oneohtrix Point Never and Hudson Mohawke. These are intensely gorgeous songs even when the subject matter is ugly: On “Drone Bomb Me,” ANOHNI sings from the perspective of an orphan hoping to die in an attack, as his parents did; “Obama” condemns the president for unfulfilled promises and unprovoked aggression; “Why Did You Separate Me From The Earth?” questions the future of the planet. She often sings from the point of view of the villain she condemns: “I want to hear the dogs crying for water/I want to see the fish go belly up in the sea,” she claims on “4 Degrees.” The lyrics are unrelenting in their anger and pointedly accusatory—of specific countries, of terrorism and warfare, of environmental abuse, of self. But ANOHNI’s voice, a dramatic, sometimes operatic, often soulful croon, conveys warmth, tenderness and, contradictory to the title, hope.

—Steve Klinge