Everything you need to know about Autre Ne Veut’s new album is in the bleak video for its chilling lead-off single, “Counting.” In case you overlooked the line “I’m counting on the idea/ That you stay alive” the first time around, Arthur Ashin hammers its profoundly depressing point home with a clip that features a few forlorn Mykki Blanco verses and the last dying breaths of Ashin’s grandmother. Your typical love song this is not.
So while Anxiety features more than its fair share of Timbaland-vis-Timberlake tropes and unironic Top 40 nods, the shuffle and sheen of the singer/producer’s muscular studio mix can’t hide the confessionals that are exorcised across 10 mildly creepy tracks. It’s as if we were all invited to Ashin’s American Idol audition, only to watch in horror as he writhes around the floor to a rubberized Rihanna beat like a freshly-killed eel. And yet, as the last skittish sample scampers away, something truly special happens — the judges are into it, especially Nicki Minaj and Randy Jackson, who actually says, “You’re crazy dog…crazy catchy!” Believe it or not, Ashin’s bringing his baggage to Hollywood. Let’s just hope he doesn’t have a nervous breakdown in the middle of covering “Climax.”