Anohni does not shy away from a fight.
In the first three songs of “Hopelessness” (Secretly Canadian), Anohni, the transgender singer formerly known as Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons, takes on drone warfare, climate change and governmental spying. And she does it using memorable melodies and sometimes aggressive beats, letting her gorgeous vocals soften the mental blows she is shelling out.
“Blow me from the side of the mountain,” she sings in “Drone Bomb Me,” sung from the perspective of an Afghan girl who has seen her family killed by a drone. “Blow my head off.”
In “4 Degrees,” Anohni lets the tribal beats from producer Hudson Mohawke (of Kanye West fame) punctuate her mocking proclamations about wishing for global destruction through climate change. And in “Watch Me,” she sings of how she feels protected by the “daddy” of government surveillance.
On “Obama,” she sings the president’s name like a chant, twisting it to express her disappointment in his actions.
Anohni’s world view is bleak, but the beauty that comes from her descriptions on “Hopelessness” oddly offers potent reasons not to give up just yet.