Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

Antony and the Johnsons 

The Crying Light (Secretly Canadian)

Wednesday, Jan 21 2009

Rock 'n' roll or linguistics? It's hard to say where Antony and the Johnsons' larger contribution lies. Mastermind Antony Hegarty's gift to music is his songbook, which is the most emotionally naked in indie rock. But perhaps more impressive is how his frail chamber ballads have restored that broken-down carriage of a word, "precious," to its original meaning. He proves that there's more to this adjective than porcelain figurines and smarmy greeting cards.

Sticking to this strength, Hegarty's songs have never been as gloriously precious as they are on The Crying Light. But unlike this set's full-length predecessor — the 2005 Mercury Prize–winning I Am a Bird Now (with Warhol superstar Candy Darling on the cover) — new songs like "Epilepsy Is Dancing" and "Another World" engage as much as they absorb the listener. So, while opener "Her Eyes Are Underneath the Ground" begins with Hegarty's familiar weeping falsetto, it isn't long before his tears find solace in the string and woodwinds that define the album's sound. He even takes a stab at jaunty pop on "Kiss My Name," where uncharacteristically assertive percussion does battle with opaque lyrics ("Momma in the afterglow/When the grass is green, we've grown"). It's an unlikely mix, but in the last analysis, Hegarty's new bag is as sullen as his old. His newly honed ability to connect to us without breaking our hearts, however, shows real growth in a major artist who has just hit his stride.

About The Author

Andrew Stout


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"