Antony and the Johnsons

Another World EP

Rating: 3.0

Label: Secretly Canadian

Though it’s been three years since his Mercury Award-winning I Am a Bird Now, Antony Hegarty has been anything but quiet. In this past year alone he has popped up on the I’m Not There soundtrack and guested on the critically acclaimed disco album Hercules & Love Affair. His new disc with band The Johnsons is not due until January, but in the meantime he has released the EP Another World as a snack to tide us over for the main course this winter.

Being an EP must be something akin to our middle school years; we’re still developing and feel downright awkward. While some bands have mastered the art of the EP by including only essential material (Iron & Wine), many of these short-players are remixes or tracks not worthy of a proper release. Think of them as the deleted scenes for the CD set. Another World is supposed to make us anticipate The Crying Light‘s release, and while it does do the trick, it’s probably not as successful as Antony would like.

Indeed, it is undeniable that there is no one out there with pipes like Antony. His voice is both tragic and soaring, a mellifluous instrument that can bend with sadness or fly with release. Although I Am a Bird Now was a desolate affair, it featured some of the most beautiful music of the last decade. Expectations for a follow-up, Antony’s third proper album, are indubitably high.

As Another World begins, it is obvious that this will be a very different collection of songs. Gone are the lush instrumentation, famous guest stars (Lou Reed and Devendra Banhart, for example) and big, swelling crescendos. The title track is a standard torch song that begins with Antony listing off the little things he is going to miss (presumably when he passes away) until he mentions “the wind” and a haunting recorder lilts in from what sounds like another world.

While “Crackagen,” “Sing For Me” and “Hope Mountain” do little to expand Antony’s sonic palette, “Shake That Devil” sounds like something off of an old Stones album. It is a call-and-response stomp that grows more enjoyable with each listen. Is this what we can expect from The Crying Light? While it has been proven that Antony can perform upbeat (“Fistful of Love”), he seems more comfortable in ballads than blues. For those who can’t enough of Antony’s voice, you’re going to love this. If you are looking for something as indelible as I Am a Bird Now, the wait continues until January.

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