One of the most eagerly awaited follow-ups in recent memory for alternative music, composer Anna Meredith announces her sophomore studio album FIBS. Doing what all great artists should and taking a different tack, the widescreen maximalism and energetic rhythms make it stand apart from 2016’s reputation-making Varmints.
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Before I review ‘FIBS’ by Anna Meredith I need to tell you something. We stuck the CD on in the office earlier and for a good 20 minutes listened the first second of ‘Sawbones’ looping and distorting. It sounded a bit like if Steve Reich took 80s pop as the starting point for his minimalism, and truthfully, we liked it.
‘FIBS’ does take 80s pop as it’s starting point, but it’s decidedly un-minimal. That isn’t a surprise, her break out track ‘Nautilus’, does have elements of minimalism, but it’s almost one of the most shamelessly maximalist pieces of music I’ve ever heard. It rocks. Here though, she takes that neoclassical pomp and gleefully mixes with more poppy references to make something that is equal parts silly and cerebral. ‘Bump’ starts with a signature Meredith tuba march trading beats with cheesy synths until it falls down into to manic groove.
That tuba’s aren’t the only Meredithism to have made it to ‘FIBS’. The aforementioned ‘Sawbones’ opens with trancey strings, but is joined by a bassy synth playing the sort of chromatic progression that’s all over ‘Varmints’. For all the way the records feel different, it’s small touches like these that make them indisputably Anna Meredith.
‘Sawbones’ is followed by ‘Inhale Exhale’, an out and out pop tune bolstered by euphoric pads and a kick drum which turns it into an utter dancefloor weapon. Meredith sings over the top about differing perspectives. Is ‘FIBS’ classical, is it pop, is it dance? It depends from where you’re listening.
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