Two swigs Prince to one gulp Talk Talk, opener ‘Play By Play’ is the grandiose centrepiece. Ashin initially quips in a wavering falsetto, ‘And I said, baby / and I said, baby / and I said, baby / and I said, baby’; the song culminates with a female vocalist repeating, ‘Don’t ever leave me alone / play by play, play by play’. He sets the tone perfectly. This is an album about love, sex, ups and downs.
Drawing direct inspiration from Usher’s last record, what comes out is always darn catchy but always in an awkward, inimitable way; Ashin has one of the most soul-crushing, unique falsettos, soaring clear above everything else in the mix. Lead single ‘Counting’ has incomprehensible lyrics, but his vocal range alone serves up more than enough emotion.
Much of the music on the record is awkward to listen to and hard to take seriously. But that’s just part of the ANV rulebook. Massive-sounding pop synths, obfuscating sax squeals, glammy guitar flourishes, spacey swathes of ambience (perhaps the influence of former roommate Daniel Lopatin): this is pop meets the ironic, playful savant.
Standout ‘Ego Free Sex Free’ is a case in point: heavily manipulated samples, a grinding hip hop beat and arpeggiating synths in tow, anxiety is replaced with the ecstatic delirium of a party: ‘ego free sex free / I can’t feel my body moving’. You can’t help but sing along.
This is an album of climaxes and cathartic streams of consciousness, but an album listenable from start to finish. If inc. and How To Dress Well are making smooth, chilled-out bedroom jams, Autre Ne Veut is doing something lifted from the other end of the R&B spectrum, something just as hypnotic, but ten times as uncomfortably thrilling.
More like this
The modern age is something Arthur Ashin seems to find challenging.
Arthur Ashin will follow-up his 2013 album ‘Anxiety’ with a new full-length this October.