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Singer-songwriter and Brit Award-nominee Ladyhawke will be hoping to replicate the success of her eponymous 2008 debut with follow-up album Anxiety. Described by the singer as being much darker and more guitar-driven than her last effort, it includes lead singles “Black White & Blue” and “Sunday Drive”.
Even a staunch Ladyhawke supporter could be forgiven for approaching this record with caution. For a start, there's the title. Calling an album Anxiety hardly smacks of self-confidence, especially when that album is the follow-up to a well-regarded debut. Critics praised the first Ladyhawke LP when it came out in 2008; pop buffs wanted it to sell better than it eventually did.
Nor is the title entirely tongue-in-cheek. Pip Brown, the singer-songwriter behind the Ladyhawke name, piled so much pressure on herself that making this album "felt like a two-year-long anxiety attack". Factor in several delays to release date and an ugly cliché slithers onto the tongue…
Thankfully, notions of a "sophomore slump" can be dismissed. Anxiety is a pretty cracking second album, though it's not the second album fans might have expected. The first Ladyhawke record worked a twinkly synth-pop sound, prompting comparisons to 1980s pop idols Kim Wilde and Cyndi Lauper. This is an album of fuzzy guitar-pop tunes. In fact, Anxiety features no synths at all, only some retro-sounding organ parts from Pascal Gabriel, Brown's co-writer/producer on all 10 tracks.
Ladyhawke still sounds like Ladyhawke, just tougher and more muscular, like Ladyhawke after a boot camp. She's broadened her remit too. Anxiety's reference points range from the 1960s psychedelia of album opener Girl Like Me to Britpop and beyond: closing track Gone Gone Gone cribs its vocal hooks from The Dandy Warhols' 2000 hit Bohemian Like You.
In between, there are power-pop gems aplenty. Sunday Drive is a wistful mix of Blondie and 1980s Fleetwood Mac. Cellophane aims for the widescreen grandeur of David Bowie's "Heroes" and doesn't disgrace itself. Blue Eyes is an infectious Joan Jett-channelling kiss-off.
Infectious is a key word here. The anxiety of the title may permeate the lyrics – one song acknowledges the connection between "self-destruction", "self-obsession" and "vanity", while another pushes its luck by rhyming "cautious" with "nauseous". But it doesn't affect the quality of the music: Anxiety is as tight and catchy as a baseball mitt. On this evidence, one thing that needn't cause Pip Brown anxiety is her ear for a tune.
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Top Customer Reviews
The enjoyable opening track 'Girl Like Me' has touches of T.Rex which leads to us to think that Pip is about to take us on a contemporary musical journey through the 70's in a similar fashion as she did with the 80's throughout the self titled first album. Indeed the excellent next track 'Sunday Drive' sounds much like a holdover from that first album, so no disappointment there then. The following tracks settle into a steady string of driving baselines and catchy lyrics - 'Black White & Blue', 'Vaccine', Blue Eyes' and 'Vanity' all top notch numbers increasingly cementing a sound not so much `80's' but simply 'Ladyhawke'. 'The Quick & the Dead' is a slightly darker number, but still in keeping with the album feel, as is the title track where Pip mixes a light, punchy score with some slightly more deeper lyrical content.
Then just when you think things are ticking away nicely into the final stretch comes an absolute show stopper - the beautiful, amazing, fantastic 'Cellophane', a standout track on what is a standout album.
'Gone Gone Gone' completes the album listing (another great track which could easily have featured on the previous album) but that's not the final number -'Human', a 'hidden' track, follows a minute or two later, and for a literal bonus it's up there with the rest of the proceedings.Read more ›
This album avoids that difficult 2nd album issue that lots of artists have, managing to feel both a little retro, but also very modern in sound, and I think will be played regularly.
Favourite tracks are probably...
Girl like me
The Quick and the Dead
You can appreciate what she is trying to do, and if this had been more of the same from the first album she would have been criticised for being stuck in the 80s. But I was hoping for her to take the same sound further, rather than this change of direction.
That's not to say it's a poor album. It has some good tracks, and a good production. If you liked Garbage, you'll like this. That's no small recommendation as Garbage were a great band in their time. But a 90s sound-alike is not much to get excited about in 2012. A bit of a disappointment after an outstanding debut.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a great album with a range of catchy songs. She still has a great voice and I would say I prefer this to her first album overall. Read morePublished 6 months ago by ray davies fan club
Rocking and Gutsy. Just the right balance of echo and distortion with harmonious vocals, the lyrics of which are full of raw power and emotion perfectly balanced by the bass-beat... Read morePublished 23 months ago by owlmanstirin
Not as good as first album which I thought was superb but ok, still worth buying if you are in your mid-40s as i am. AnxietyPublished on 16 Aug. 2012 by Shamera
I had high hopes about this CD after hearing a couple of tracks on 6Music but after purchasing it and listening a couple of times I found it seriously flawed. Read morePublished on 20 July 2012 by Gordon Kerr