Antony and the Johnsons, 'The Crying Light' (Secretly Canadian)

The Crying Light
Critical Mass
Label: Secretly Canadian

by Spencer Kornhaber

Sexual confusion, sibling rivalry, fear of death: On 2005's gut-twisting I Am aBird Now, Antony Hegarty sang about earthly anxieties in a deep croon that could have come from some androgynous, mournful extraterrestrial. Hegarty's voice is famously his own; stylistically, he's akin to Björk, but with a timbre closer to a saxophone. His best work, including contributions to Hercules and Love Affair's glassy-eyed disco debut last year, thrives on the shock of recognizing the human frailty in Hegarty's velvety, otherworldly bay.

Antony and the Johnsons' third full-length wisely focuses on the frontman's enormous talent, with Nico Muhly's classical arrangements plinking and waltzing but never overpowering. Hegarty's command has never been greater: The album's opening note, quivering and clinging like a spider in a wind-buffeted web, could send an unprepared listener to the brink of tears.

Still, The Crying Light may be the singer's most alien-seeming work yet. His motives feel distant, with each song sketching surreal scenes of flowers and snow, flecked with references to sad eyes and ill-defined desires. Hegarty appears to be exploring the ways that nature leaves every living thing perfect but incomplete -- from the sun-seeking plant to the helpless baby to the convulsing epileptic. It's a fitting, if oblique, message from a man who voices his species' joys and sorrows in sounds only he can produce.

Listen: Antony and the Johnsons, "Another World"



00:00 00:00 No Song Selected More info
00:00 00:00
Now Playing
  • 1 Tuatara — Snakecharmer " 02:56
  • 2 Sleep — The Clarity " 09:51
  • 3 The Weeknd — King Of The Fall " 05:02
  • 4 Unicorns — Rocketship " 02:50
  • 5 Valentino Khan — Make Some Noise " 03:43
  • 6 Christopher Denny — Watch Me Shine " 04:28
  • 7 The Range — Rayman " 03:34

SPIN is a member of SPIN Music Group, a division of BUZZMEDIA