Antony & The Johnsons – The Crying Light – Rough Trade

Published

Catriona Reilly

Many people may be familiar with Antony Hegarty’s unusual vocals, albeit unwittingly, through Hercules and Love Affair’s indie club favourite ‘Blind’ or perhaps from Bjork’s ‘Dull Flame of Desire’. His musical endeavours, however, extend further than collaborations and ‘The Crying Light’ is Antony and the Johnsons’ third full-length baroque pop album. The band emerged from total obscurity with 2005’s release of ‘I Am a Bird Now’, a surreal ode to a dying Earth which received a Mercury music prize for its unparalleled originality.

This album continues the theme of Earth’s precarious mortality but also incorporates new themes in a magically poetic way. The opening track ‘Her Eyes Are Underneath the Ground’ presents the listener with Antony’s hauntingly beautiful vocals; tender, morose and fragile, perfectly accentuated by a gentle piano and cello arrangements. This spectral style continues throughout the album, having been compared to that of Nina Simone’s but with a darker edge.

Tracks such as ‘One Dove’, ‘Another World’ and ‘Dust and Water’ are absorbing for not just the enchanting melancholy melody and the curious, sometimes dramatic vocals but also the lyricism. After an initial listen this album may seem strange and over-complex but given another chance it becomes apparent that it is simply a stunning piece of work.