Ladyhawke, Anxiety

Barry Walters

By Barry Walters

on 05.29.12 in Reviews


Her guitars rock harder while her influences span decades

When a musician joins a movement, she eventually needs to distinguish herself from the pack before its audience moves on. That’s exactly what New Zealand’s Pip Brown aka Ladyhawke does on her long-awaited follow-up to her 2008 debut. Don’t trip: Anxiety retains the synths, hooks and beats that link the multi-instrumentalist to fellow ’80s celebrants Little Boots, Annie, Robyn, La Roux, Goldfrapp and Lady Gaga, and she’s even polished her vocal skills. But this time around, her guitars rock a little harder while her influences span decades. The slinky solo snaking through the instrumental break of “Black White & Blue” buzzes like Eno-era Roxy Music even as the keyboards suggest Sparks’ “This Town Isn’t Big Enough for the Both of Us.” Latter on, her chugging guitars on “Cellophane” suggest the Pixies as the synth riff rips Wings’ “Band on the Run.” Pascal Gabriel, the U.K. producer who helmed half of her debut, sticks around throughout Anxiety, helping it achieve a wholeness its singles-oriented predecessor lacked. As the album’s title suggests, Brown frets a sophomore slump: Both “Anxiety” and “Sunday Drive” long for an escape from her insular, studio-bound existence: “Take me on a ride, show me how to hide the voice in my head,” she pleads in the former. She needn’t have worried.