“What does it sound like?” The year was 1997 and I wanted to know if the latest Björk album, Homogenic was any good. My inquiry was directed at a friend who was a big fan. To this day, his reply still makes me laugh: “Oh you know, it’s the usual, like pots and pans falling down the stairs with Björk singing over the top of it”. Perfect.
When it comes to Björk, I have only ever been a casual fan. I’ve seen live shows (both The Sugarcubes and solo) and own all of her solo studio albums (including Homogenic!). And I remember being particularly enamored with her soundtrack album from 2000, Selmasongs, and listening to it non-stop for months. Still, while there have been songs and albums I’ve genuinely loved along the way, I’ve never been a fanatic.
But man oh man, do I LOVE her new podcast. It is called Björk: Sonic Symbolism. Each episode is dedicated to a particular album in her discography (find it here). It is earnest, fascinating, and funny (she cuts down the male-dominated society of the Smurfs!). And if you are an introverted weirdo like me, you will find it shockingly relatable. Yes, there are all sorts of poignant Björk-ian anecdotes—like how during her daily 40-minute walk to school as a child, she used to sing to herself to keep calm as she trudged through extreme and scary Icelandic weather conditions. And she describes how the cover of the album Post was meant to represent an innocent girl being overwhelmed by the colors, lights, and intensity of the city (which inspired me to really look at the cover properly for the first time, crazy but true). But honestly, the most amazing thing about the podcast is how often she references her introversion and the challenge of operating as an introvert in a world that favors and overrates extroverts (sidebar: she also mentions being a Scorpio, so shout out to all my fellow Scorps). As of this writing, there are only three episodes posted so she has at least another six to go and yeah, I think you should go spend some time with Björk because life is hard, and hearing a fellow weirdo talk about making art and “being different” so effusively will absolutely make you feel better.
It is now time for the WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST featuring the finest new songs that have crossed our path this week. They are all oh so wonderful. Listen below on Soundcloud or Spotify. And hey, there’s another little treat following the playlists so keep scrolling!
We live on a mountain…
Listen on Soundcloud
Listen on Spotify
PuR pal Ed Zed of the band Strange Flesh (formerly known as The Casual Sexists) wrote us a thunderous review of the equally thunderous new album by Anzahlung, What You Think Is All You’ve Got. Sock it to us hero Ed…
“ANZAHLUNG!” What a delightfully stentorian way to bark what translates into plummy old English as “deposit”. And by jingo, dearest reader, Anzahlung are about to firmly deposit their dazzling brand of warped electronic anti-pop into your unexpecting earholes this very day.
The duo, an offshoot of the almighty Cravats comprised of chief yelper The Shend and multipronged muso Joe 91, is a project originally manifested during the dark days of 2020’s lockdown, now back with a glorious second album, which just might be their best.
(Before we go any further if any of you are unfamiliar with The Cravats, have a go on my earlier PuR pieces about them here and here, and by god, I envy you getting to hear this band for the first time).
What You Think Is All You’ve Got—a title that really resonates with me, albeit uneasily—kicks off with the sonically Suicide-esque “Pet”, which explores the equally uneasy concept of ownership of another living entity.
From here, Anzahlung really goes into overdrive, fusing clangingly deconstructed techno and bass music stylings with The Shend’s scything social commentary, delivered in playfully mocking singsong tones on “Boneless Man”, before giving way to sky-clawing, borderline showtune acrobatics for the parping “Too Famous”.
“Can Be Happy”, “Ghost” and “Have You Any Ha Ha Ha” provide a cordially punishing industrial interlude before we arrive at one of the brightest jewels in Anzahlung’s crown: a smoldering synthpop ballad which speaks so delicately of the horror and absurdity of war, I confess that I haven’t made it dry-eyed through one single exposure to this exquisite song.
Conjuring the blind fear of a WWII pilot on a mission that makes little sense, “Junkers” is a poignant, harrowing and beautiful epistle to one forced into the maelstrom, and I’m not going to lie, it’s probably my favorite track on the album.
As well as poignant synthpop ballads, however, I also have a passion for deeply unwell club music, and the cuckoo “Fan Out” spews the perfect amount of unholy muck onto the dancefloor before “Can’t Take It With You” injects a dose of staccato electro-glam into the proceedings.
Next, the wonderful “Cliff”, pulsing with anthropomorphic angst, ferries us into the uncomfortable waters of the album’s title track, and one of its very best.
“What You Think is All You’ve Got” begins with the always great combination of drums, vocals, and a few unidentifiable dissonant noises before waging its fractured assault on the jivin’ arena, all paranoia and horror movie bass frequencies, before it culminates in a final strangled yawp.
Rounding out the affair is the apocalyptic funk freakout of “You Won’t Come Back” and bonkers “Don’t Open The Door”, which simultaneously recalls The Cravats’ absurdist album closer “All U Bish Dumpers” fused with Sun Ra’s “Strange Strings”.
Anzahlung’s barnstorming new opus proves that while many elder statespeople of punk are content to retread old boards, the best ones are far happier continuing to pogo on those boards until they splinter to matchwood, precipitating a daredevil plunge into new and exotic netherworlds below. And as a lifelong devotee of the stuff, to me, that’s what punk was always supposed to do, innit?
Anzahlung’s ‘What You Think Is All You’ve Got’ is available at Bandcamp (here), both digitally and as a very limited vinyl LP, which you should purchase as a Christmas present for absolutely everyone you know, before Santa and his wicked elves distribute them to far less deserving parties.