Kiwi songstress Ladyhawke burst onto the music scene in 2008 with her self-titled debut, spawning such hits as “My Delirium” and “Paris is Burning” and winning the hearts of '80s pop lovers locally and abroad. Now she’s back, with her long-awaited follow up record, Anxiety.
Listening to the album, it is evident that Ladyhawke has not decided to move in a new direction – the familiar sound of her voice and trademark synthesiser riffs are as present as ever. The opening track: “Girl Like Me” doesn’t blow you away – rather, it eases you into the atmosphere Ladyhawke has painstakingly created.
The current single, “Sunday Drive”, leaves much more of an impression. It’s got a great beat and is incredibly catchy. There’s an excellent build up to the chorus but instead of the chorus taking off, she pulls it back. It’s a little anti-climactic but is overall a solid track. Another of my favourites is “Black White and Blue”, with sprinklings of synth and a rad contrast between the verse and chorus. Both “Sunday Drive” and “Black White and Blue” really remind me of Ladyhawke’s previous hits but it’s clear that she has developed as a songwriter since her debut.
There seems to be a formula Ladyhawke rarely deviates from – a minimalistic verse, a building lead up and a much bigger chorus - it’s a formula that many pop bands adhere to and it’s not necessarily a bad thing because often it really works. However, sometimes the quest to make the chorus take off overshadows the lyrics or vocals, such as in “Vaccine” – during the chorus, there is a sharp synth riff and loud drum beat that almost overpowers Ladyhawke’s voice – it seems she is shouting to be heard. (This does, however, reflect a lyric in the verse: 'one or the other will win'!)
Most of the tracks on Anxiety are pretty similar to each other but "Cellophane" really sticks out for me. It’s softer, more like a ballad and really tells a story. It’s a touching track and I fell in love with it the first time I heard it.
Overall, Anxiety is a solid release from Ladyhawke and I am really glad she’s back. There are some gems amidst some average tracks – but I think the album’s a grower. The more I listen to it, the more I like it. I have a feeling Ladyhawke’s live shows coming up will be really great with this new material.
I hope she comes out with a new album soon, that further fulfills her potential.
Review score: 7.8/10.