Antony and the Johnsons

Thank You For Your Love EP

Rating: 3.0/5.0

Label: Rough Trade/Secretly Canadian

Though four years passed between Antony Hegarty’s breakthrough I Am a Bird Now and his even better follow-up The Crying Light, October will bring his fourth LP, Swanlights, less than a year and a half later. However, to temper the wait and whet the appetite, Antony and the Johnsons have released five-song EP Thank You For Your Love, a collection of three originals and two covers.

Again featuring similar soaring rock and melancholy ballads, Thank You For Your Love is little more than a tease. The title track, which will appear on Swanlights, hews dangerously close to Bird’s “Fistful of Love,” a slow-building song whose crescendo bursts with horns and Hegarty’s powerful voice. Though much more celebratory, “Thank You For Your Love” finds Hegarty side-stepping rather than pushing his art as each of his prior LPs have demonstrated an enormous jump in quality.

Another original, “My Treasure,” feels like an unfinished sketch, clocking in at two minutes, while “My Lord My Love” previously appeared as a bonus track to The Crying Light. While Antony fans can’t complain about any new music at all, this wafer-thin confection really does nothing except hold time for the big LP coming later. However, the Another World EP that prefaced The Crying Light did not adequately preface that album’s genius, so all hope is not lost here.

Hegarty decides to cover Dylan and Lennon on the later part of the EP, both ballsy decisions. No stranger to Dylan (Antony covered Dylan’s version of the traditional “I Was Young When I Left Home” on last year’s Dark Was the Night compilation and “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” for the I’m Not There soundtrack), he turns “Pressing On,” a little-known track from Saved, into something all his own, changing the original’s gospel brimstone into a personal ballad.

Covering “Imagine” is a risky move, but Hegarty personalizes the tune, changing it from first person plural to first person singular. While the take may be somewhat superfluous, Antony does his best to put an original spin on the song, one that flirts with becoming played out. If Antony closed out a proper album with this cover it would be a cardinal sin, but an EP allows any artist a chance to play around and I can think of many other musicians I would rather not hear cover John Lennon. So in effect, Thank You For Your Love accomplishes what its sets out to do: it gets Hegarty’s voice back into the spotlight and gets us excited for his upcoming record. I’m totally ready for it and I know I’m not the only one.

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