some ideas, some music, some gardening

Anxiety (2013) by Autre Ne Veut

Proudly Embarrassing

I count 2013-2016 to be an era of defining R&B albums. From Kelela to Hiatus Kaiyote to FKA Twigs, this was a time where R&B vocals could fit into almost any production foundation, from UK Bass to XX-like atmospheric minimalism. And Autre Ne Veut’s “Anxiety” fit right in there, with hard-hitting productions and eccentric vocals that cut into the body and soul. 

“Promises” is so desperate and manic, for a time when I was desperate and manic. It opened my days up to opportunity while I walked cloudy-headed in cloudy Seattle. There should be a sub-genre of artists and tracks that are just dedicated to the idea that “I was promised this, and I really, really want it now!” It would also include Antony & The Johnsons, The Smiths, and half of the old hardcore punk bands. 

“Warning” was the first time I could appreciate R&B as music for sensuality. The start-and-stop timing of the percussion mixed with Ashin’s falsetto vocals just unlocked something very different in myself and my musical tastes. This track is likely my standard of a good, emotive R&B track. 

The totality of Anxiety is not afraid to show the rough edges, whether of production, vocalization, or subject matter. It can be painful and exhausting to listen to, but its unique production and energy is something I must return to every year, because it’s so hard to find anything else like it, and I love it (unfortunately, even Autre Ne Veut’s follow-up album couldn’t compare to this densely-packed debut). 

I listen to enough detached, lackadaisical, energetic, happy music, that I still want a taste of the desperation, which I still feel every day, even when it hides in the undercurrents of my psyche. Desperation is amplified eagerness, the one that people try to hide for fear that they will (very likely) embarrass themselves. Anxiety is a proudly embarrassing affair, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.