Lazy rascals, spending their substance, and more, in riotous living

The Official Chart for May 15

ANOHNI’s new album, Hopelessness, is absolutely staggering. I’m not very familiar with her previous work; I’m most familiar with her as an occasional collaborator with Björk, and indeed Hopelessness has some similarity to Björk, the combination of beautiful and challenging vocals with emotionally overwhelming beats and, for want of a better term, a great reach of conceptual ambition. I don’t think it’s controversial to say that most music that foregrounds its politics is rubbish, often because of bad politics, but overwhelmingly because of a lack of interest in the politics of aesthetics, that is, a lack of thought about what kind of political world might be created by the aesthetic effects of music. It’s in this aesthetic dimension that Hopelessness is so impressive. Take “4 degrees” as a case in point: a song about climate change in which the music conjures up the terrifying and awe-inspiring reality of the destruction being wrought by climate change. But more than that, the song is aware that this effect is, specifically, an aesthetic effect; that we can take pleasure in this apparition of self-destruction. The political effect of making us feel that ambivalence is devastating. Read more↴