The various guises of Lila Rose and her varied musical career to date have seen her evolve into ANIIML. Under the ANIIML persona she is pushing the empowering pop buttons. Through the big brass and synth moments, there are some excellent tracks that occasionally get hampered by the odd clunky lyric.
Firstly, I need to get just one thing off my chest. Lyrics are personal and I don’t often comment on them as I think that should be left up to the listener to interpret and enjoy. However, there is a throwaway passage that verges on memeable on the track ‘Handle Me’. With slick bass lines, clever vocal arrangements and big drums (generally a staple of her career which I always enjoy) here we get spoken remarks like ‘He lied about it – he’s not even vegan! He eats chicken and turkey!’ It feels wildly out of balance from the rest of the album and it is so rare that something clunks so hard for me that I actually paused a song and said allowed ‘oh no’. The reason why I cared so much was because of how empowering the rest of the lyrics are. It’ll be the marmite moment of the album.
With that aside, ANIIML channels the same sass and dark dangerous power that her previous project as Lila Rose brought to the table. ‘Slay’ is a pop anthem waiting to happen, ‘Ouch’ is the foghorn drama r n b song we all deserve to pick ourselves back up again and the sheer urgency of the choruses of ‘Out! Of! Control!’ should be enough for anyone to have a cardio workout. Signature across the entire album is the merger of horns and brass into a cinematic synth. It sounds like an army salute and it is this forward-facing, unapologetic approach that makes ANIIML such a force to be reckoned with. The tracks sound physical, like an attack strategy and I love the energy that is brought to each track.
This being Higher Plain Music, I do have a tendency to enjoy some of the darker tracks on the album. The duet with ‘Robots & Ballons’ on ‘Before It Gets Better’ is the token gentle acoustic ballad track and their voices work beautifully together. The tribal drums of ‘It’s Not Over Yet’ harks back to her more spiritual side and ANIIML’s love of percussion. The anthemic closer ‘Stronger Now’ is a power-pop gem that feels wild, raw, militant and defiant. It showcases everything fantastic about what album and it’s sound brings.
Whilst I may personally prefer the more piano tribal pop sounds of previous albums, ANIIML has made an uplifting album with ‘Oh Awe’ that works the modern-day pop formula to create explosive pop anthems. Whilst it is absolutely about getting back on your feet, what I love about it is how dirty and scarred the entire experience is and that ANIIML is proud to bare each wound as part of who she is. That is a great message for all and deserves praise all of its own.
Recommended track: Slay
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