- 27 Aug 18
Pop outsider tackles gender conformity while delivering big choruses.
Anna Calvi’s first two albums were a wham -bam reminder that, even in this Age of Pop, rock ‘n’ roll remains unsurpassed in its ability to deliver a visceral punch.
But she’s been MIA for the past five years, having followed a Mercury nomination for her self-titled 2011 debut by repeating the feat in 2013 with follow-up One Breath.
In the interim, the Londoner has busied herself writing the music for Robert Wilson’s opera, The Sandman (tragically not a Neil Gaiman adaptation - what we would give for an Anna Calvi tilt at Morpheus).
She returns with her most authoritative and hard swinging LP yet - one that tackles sexual identity and gender conformity.
This has long been an under-the-surface interest of Calvi’s - who cut her teeth playing regular gigs at the London LGBT hotspot Candy Bar and quietly explored queer identity on her early hit ‘Suzanne And I’.
The theme is dealt with far more explicitly here - with ‘As A Man’ unfurling like a goth-pop revisiting of Beyonce’s ‘If I Were A Boy’ and ‘Don’t’ Beat The Girl Out Of My Boy’ arguing that gender divisions aren’t always as clear cut as mainstream society would have us believe.
If that sounds like a gender studies seminar with guitars, the good news is that Calvi has also delivered some of her most compelling songs. On single ‘Hunter’ she positions herself as a rockabilly Nick Cave, while ‘As A Man’ leavens its often feral tone with surprising pop underpinnings.
Calvi has never sounded more comfortable in her skin and Hunter may well be the record that establishes her as one of most fascinatingly inscrutable British songwriters of her generation.
Out August 31st.
Watch the Video for 'Don't Beat the Girl out of My Boy,' below.