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Anika: Anika [EP]

Album Notes

With a unique and unlikely mix of sounds -- vintage electronics, dubby reverb, and her deadpan alto -- Anika's first album was one of 2010's most distinctive debuts. She remains one-of-a-kind on this collection of covers and remixes, which also showcases producer Geoff Barrow's production and arrangement skills. They're a vital part of her striking persona, particularly on the version of Shocking Blue's "Love Buzz," which strips away most of the original's exoticism for a subtler, but just as insistent, approach that circles around the hypnotic melody rather than stating it directly. Similarly, Barrow and Anika bring a harder edge to the wistful disco of Chromatics' "In the City" with intentionally cheap-sounding synth strings and her clipped Teutonic vocals. Even if it's not a radical reworking, they make the song her own; it could have easily appeared on her debut. Yet some of the EP's best moments expand on the fragility and vulnerability that occasionally surfaced on her debut. "I Go to Sleep," which also appeared on the album, plays the contrast between her aloof delivery and Ray Davies' yearning words and melody for all it's worth. By contrast, her version of the Crystals' infamous "He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)" -- which has been reclaimed by enough indie musicians that it's been stripped of much of its controversy -- mixes softness and violence, innocence and world-weariness so deftly that it's almost shocking again. The EP closes with dub versions of two of the strongest songs on her debut that provide the full-on splashy, spacy treatments that the album hinted at; while they don't surpass the originals, they're still enjoyable. On paper, it might seem disappointing that there are only three new songs here, but that's more than enough for Anika to reaffirm what a gifted interpreter she is. ~ Heather Phares



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