Anomie Belle – Flux
Few releases this year, indie or otherwise, will resonate with its intended audience like Anomie Belle’s debut Flux. The dozen songs compromising its running order cover a gamut of musical sounds. The predominant influences dominating her songwriting are trip hop, electronica, and dance with a dollop of classical added for good measure. Her lyrical content is sometimes merely functional, but more often than note, Belle’s lyrics look to explicate important themes and fulfill their mandate spectacularly well. Despite the artier inclinations of some songwriting, Belle’s music always escapes pretension and, instead, remains resolutely accessible thanks to its willingness to engage those aforementioned universal themes. She has a wonderfully musical, deeply emotive voice that never overshadows the instrumentation, but even a cursory listen will convince her audience that she’s the central star in this firmament of sound.
There’s tremendous style on display from the outset. “Saturday Gives” has a lightly landing, but improbably dense swirl of sound propelled by three pivotal styles. The song opens with a wall of strings before segueing into a light trip hop beat and an tastefully layered cloud of electronica. She moves on from there to shedding the classical influences entirely on “Right Way”, but the remaining trip hop and electronica textures gain in prominence as a result and are more than enough to draw listeners’ into its web. “Unwind” moves the album’s focus, once again, in another subtler direction. This is much more of a mood piece, putting its attention towards both entertaining the potential audience and constructing an unselfconsciously theatrical air. “Lovers” is much less conventional in comparison but, oddly, shows off sides of normalcy in how its pursues a groove-centered approach much more than the earlier songs. Theirs is no such focus on the groove in “As Summer Bleeds Daylight” – instead, Belle goes to great efforts to strengthen the cinematic and theatrical qualities inherent to the song while still actively seeking to entertain the audience.
“Tumult” is musically dynamic, rising and falling at various point, and has a restrained mid-tempo pace that Belle milks for maximum drama. Despite her efforts to exploit the song’s potential, she never overplays her talent and risks heavy-handedness. “Beneath” offers the same object lesson in tastefulness, but this time Belle takes on a funk/soul mantle with considerable success. The performance has a credible touch that listeners will expect to hear from top flight acts in the genre, but perhaps not necessarily expect from Belle. The piano driven showcase “The Good Life” gives her audience a chance to hear Belle at her most unvarnished, free of post-production trickery, and hitting a starkly emotive note lacking from the earlier songs. The final number “We Let Ourselves In” has an exuberant edge that listeners haven’t encountered in the album’s final songs, but it isn’t aggressive. Instead, it plays to bring the album to a rousing finish and succeeds well. It’s the right note to strike ending this release and covers all of the album’s various stylistic bases in one spectacular ending.
9 out of 10 stars.