ANIMA! - ANIMA! (C+)

There are certain albums that I like to call “holdover albums”. This is what happens when you’re waiting for an artist you love to come out with new material, so in the meantime you turn to something that sounds similar, to hold you over. Sylvan Esso’s self titled 2014 debut was a bit of an obsession of mine, as it was to many of you. While I still listen to it regularly, the greedy fan in me always craves more and that’s when ANIMA! stepped in. Before I read that they’d cited Sylvan Esso as one of their main influences, I could immediately hear it in their music. Lead singer Arielle Vakni’s voice sounded strikingly similar to that of Amelia Meath (Sylvan), as did their approach. At least, that’s the way I felt after the first listen. The thing about listening to an album multiple times is that you always pick up something new, peeling back the layers and finding it’s core, then adding those layers back and feeling the full effect in a new way. In doing this you’ll find that sometimes the similarities you noticed with other artists aren’t all that similar, and the uniqueness will be more present with each listen. That’s exactly what happened here. As the album progresses you hear, on songs like “Optimism” and “Heartflow”, that their style is very much their own. While the vocal similarities can’t be denied, the more you listen the wider the gap in sound becomes. The record as a whole is consistently laid back and makes for a great drive or relaxed tunes to enjoy on the coast. Through their harmonies and layered electro pop they treat you to a range of vibes, like the reggae infused “Silver Linings” or the African drums backing “Breathe”. This album snuck up on me and with each listen I found myself drawn to it more and more. Excited to see how they build and grow from here.