Buried deep in the concluding moments of Paradise, the voice of an unidentified woman asks: “Everything is going upside down. How are we going to work on it, work on it to make it better? All of us.” Before we reach her words of warning, we have encountered an ominous funeral march intro, a dystopian vision of hell, an impassioned rant directed at Christians and a lot of other people, a song in which a mother repudiates her own child, a song about hating God and, just to finish it off, an ecological apocalypse. It is fair to say that ANOHNI has taken up where she left off with Hopelessness, confronting the ills of the new, fragmented, hate-driven politics head on.
Paradise, consisting of six songs, showcases the remarkable, uplifting confidence of the last year’s acclaimed Hopelessness. Transformed in a new identity, the former Antony Hegarty became a prophet - her commanding voice searing and impossible to ignore on songs such as ‘Drone Bomb Me’. Paradise is a coda, but no throwaway extras release. A carefully assembled set of songs creates a different atmosphere to its parent album, with Daniel Lopatin joined on production by Hudson Mohawke to add a new level of clubby bounce to the pitch dark subject matter.
‘In My Dreams’ opens with rushing winds, a wistful solo organ melody and massed harmonies, but this proves to be a decoy. The organ fades and the big, club beats of title track ‘Paradise’ take its place, full of the snare rolls and Mohawke. Exceptionally listenable, it combines statements of existential despair - “Hopelessness, I’m here not here” - with enormous, stomping beats and a delicate melody, and eerie duck call effects. It is a heady mix. If ‘Paradise’ is the high point, songs such as ‘Jesus Will Kill You’ (pan pipes, a grunty sample, deep bass), ‘You Are My Enemy’ (AHNONI’s purest vocal tones, church organ, door slamming kick drums) and ‘Ricochet’ (the lyric: “I’m going to hate you, my God, for making me this way”, plus steam hammer percussion) deliver the goods. Paradise walks the fine line between eternal Goth gloom and irresistible tunes, while leaving none of society’s ills unaddressed. More power to AHONHI for expressing our collective anger and telling it like it is.