by / January 21st, 2009 /

Review: Antony & The Johnsons – The Crying Light

 1/5 Rating

(Rough Trade)

(Rough Trade)

For those of tender heart, you will be delighted to know that one certain Mr Hegarty is back, expressing, and almost becoming, human frailty like no-one else. While not delivering the immediate swooning impact of the first two albums (we may have got used to his touching voice), The Crying Light is admirable in its restraint, mainly relying on Antony’s piano and voice, still resplendent in its delivery of those loving and oblique lyrics of loss and optimism. The subtle orchestration behind the songs introduces shade and light but never overwhelms proceedings.

The album as a whole may not be a fully formed and wonderful entity, but it’s the beauty in certain individual songs that linger in the memory. -Epilepsy Is Dancing’ begins with the heart-breaking ‘cut me in quadrants, leave me in the corner’ – yet rises to optimistic heights by the end, thank god. There’s a very subtle screeching wood instrument somewhere in -One Dove’ that is like a ghost in the song and though discussing murder, -Kiss My Name’ is quite upbeat in tempo. With any luck, you’ll still be tapping your foot cheerily when you reach -Another World’. Unquestionably the highlight of the album, it could well be the saddest, most tear-inducing song you’ll ever, ever hear. More instrumental ghosts float around the ether of this paean to either the planet Earth or, more probably, life itself. If you ever wish to elicit floods of tears at a funeral, this little number should do the trick.

Perhaps lacking on this album, if to be overly critical, are some bigger sounds – some epics, which Antony is well capable of penning. There is some longing to hear his voice within a more orchestral surround: anything which might expand the plane of sound, which becomes a tiny bit claustrophobic by the end.

Those of a less-than-melancholic disposition may recoil from the obvious mood of death and sadness but anyone who’s made a certain peace with their -duende’ has, in Antony, a flag-bearer for this human condition. It’s worth bearing in mind that, according to the artist, it’s not specifically darkness that pervades on The Crying Light. It is landscape and the future. Here’s to the future, then.

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