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Antony and the Johnsons

The Crying Light

[Secretly Canadian; 2009]

By ; July 30, 2009 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

This is a haunting, beautiful record, and one that defies easy summation. To be honest, that score you see above is somewhat arbitrary. I know I like this record – I think it’s really good. But for whatever reason I’m having a hard time assigning it a numerical worth, definitively stating how good it is (and thus what it’s better and worse than). Perhaps my ambivalence is in some part intended; the music here is ephereal, mysterious, and often strange. The Crying Light is not patently different than its predecessor, 2005’s much beloved I Am A Bird Now, but as delicate and beautiful as that record is at times, the new release maintains for most of its 40 minutes. It’s far more emotional too – at times harrowing, mostly deeply, vulnerably sad. Even the record’s lighter moments have a weariness to them, as if they are the brief moments of laughter that after the fatigue of intense sorrow. Needless to say, this record is not accessible or effervescent. Although the songs are in general traditional singer/songwriter compositions, with piano as the instrumental bedrock, supporting a wide array of orchestral instruments, the emotion channeled by Antony through his truly distinct voice is intense. This is one of those records that requires you to truly absorb and experience its sounds, feelings, even worldview. That’s not to say you can’t throw it on when you’re reading in bed or enjoying a lazy weekend morning – I’ve done so plenty of times so far with great enjoyment. But this is a record that aspires to be capital-A art – to really appreciate it, you’ve got to approach it as such. So, in a sense, ignore that number up there and simply take it as an indication that The Crying Light is a very good record, one of the year’s best.


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