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Disillusionment with digitisation is rapidly becoming one of the most prominent themes of 2014. St. Vincent and Angel Haze have supplied their tidbit of irritation, the new My Sad Captains concentrates unilaterally on the disconnectedness intrinsic in social media consumption, and even Wild Beasts touched upon it (essentially because they touched upon everything in Present Tense). But for all their derisive bark, they lack the devastating bite. In this regard EMA was always going to be the most ferocious, the most audacious, and inevitably the most controversial, in her judgement.
The Future's Void begins with 'Satellites'. After a disparate opening duel between a white noise screech and mutilated bass drone, it expands into a terrifying punk ballad functioned by thundering percussion, grizzly guitars and Anderson's awful promise; "as the thoughts join the night/I'mma push bright eyes up to the sky." It's a penetrating opening, remorselessly declaring that our humanity, consciousness and emotional capability is mediated by a machine a million miles away.
As the title suggests, Anderson isn't conveying a dystopian future but reflecting our immediate reality. She relates various narratives of contemporary alienation: the folk-rock tale of metropolitan isolation on 'So Blonde', the acoustic relationship-crumblings of 'When She Comes' and the oddly hopeful story of the compassionate Tumblrsphere, in 'Solace'. The whole excess-is-empty theme is well-trodden territory, but these distinct plots offer a freshly abstruse, non-preachy perspective.
It's Anderson's own story which really strikes a chord, on '3Jane'. Effervescent piano and pensive, clean drums signify Anderson's plea for relief, a voice of helplessness and estrangement that polarises her uncompromising sardonicism. Considering her seethingly critical, and brutally direct, disposition on 'Neuromancer' ("putting on makeup and taking selfies/is that the way you wanna be?") and 'Satellites', this vulnerability is deeply moving. She confesses "I don't want to put myself and turn it into a refrain"; she's reached the point where even music can't act as comfort. '3Jane' is not only an indication of TFV's tonal diversity, but its integration of introspection and ubiquity.
The record's as disarmingly insular as her debut, Past Life Martyred Saints, but also a statement of, at times uncomfortable, universality. The marching carnage of 'Cthulu' and 'Smoulder', encompassed in choked vocals, represent the violent vacuity in using the internet as an instrument of cathartic purge, "I'm carrying something deep inside me I just can't explain/I stab you to the stake." Anderson creeps under your skin by supposing we release some sort of monster by venting frustration online, where our rage is principally lines of code; it's something we obviously have all done at one point, and it's an unnerving thought. Moreover we've all experienced, if not embraced, selfie culture and the 'RIP person who's Wikipedia page I've just read you'll be sorely missed sad face' crazes condemned on 'Neuromancer' and 'Dead Celebrity'. Anderson targets our inner narcissist, the one that categorises each new like and retweet as a justification of our self-importance, and humiliates them. When the societal horrors inferred by 'Satellites' and '100 Years' are paralleled with the human nature stains of 'Dead Celebrity', it's impossible to tell who Anderson blames; are we products of our violated civilisation, or components of it?
In spite of this it's the candour of '3Jane' that lingers, the voice of pity and regret rather than vehemence and revolution, "I guess it's just a modern disease." We deserve better than the disengaged, futuristic present we've built for ourselves, but it's probably too late so we blog instead. I know I do.
The term 'masterpiece' is thrown around a lot, but...
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Started listening to the album streaming on The 405 and can't stop, totally gripping from first to last, soaring harmonics raw epic to moments of melodic hypnosis, even started strumming along with my acoustic guitar (single harmonic notes go well with the slower numbers)...just keep going... - Andrew Blakeman