It’s been a long time coming, but the debut album from London duo Anavae is finally here. 12 bursts of sound pushing the envelope further than ever before, 45 sees the band break down the boundaries of genre and bend them to their own will. The result a collective of songs that emerge from the ashes of inner turmoil, like a gold-coated phoenix taking flight to be admired in all its shimmering glory.
The scope of this album is gargantuan, from bombastic alternative anthems to sombre melodies and dirty grunge rock, there’s so much to unpack here. The combination of Rebecca Need-Menears persistently grandiloquent vocals, and Jamie Finchs fine tuned production wizardry is deadly. Album opener ‘Afraid’ (affectionately known in the Anavae friends and family camp as “the humming song”) offers up a delicious appetiser of what’s yet to come, a lick of guitar, a small serving of dark synths accompanied by lyrics that exhume emotion and invoke deeper contemplation behind their meaning. Before ‘Human’ doubles down on it all, not just in quantity but in quality too, the echoes of Choir Noir’s voices in resonance with Beccas as Jamie rips out a moody, doomsday sounding guitar riff that bellows out tones of a devilish hellscape gone musical.
‘Skeleton’ brings forth haunting tones carried by stringed melodies and ghostly murmurs, further accentuating upon the otherworldly themes recurrent throughout the record. 45 retains its composure unwaveringly throughout its runtime, the aforementioned grunge song ‘Shy Girls’ proving the duo are just as comfortable stripping their sound back to basics as they are blasting out powerful, high production expression like ‘High’ and ‘Never Want To Love Again’. A particularly bold demonstration of brilliance comes in the form of the album seminal ‘Not Enough’, which not only possesses an electronics heavy hook so infectious it’ll burn itself into your cortex forever, but as Jamie took to Instagram to explain, was a pivotal track for the duo: “This was supposed to be the last song I would ever write.”
“We were half way through writing the album and sat down with Pete (Miles - producer) to go through the 50+ demos we had put together to form the rest of the album. We listened to every single one of them...and I suddenly realised that I had grown to completely hate the music I was writing and that maybe I wasn’t ready to be doing an album after all. After being home for a couple weeks, I had given up on music. But I just wanted to get one last idea that had been in my head for a few years recorded and out of the way. I felt like once I had done that, I could move on and leave my music days behind me. That idea was the first minute or so of ‘Not Enough.’ The lyrics that Becca came up with resonated very strongly with me, so I knew I had to stop moping around and finish the track. Getting ‘Not Enough’ finished in the studio with Pete then spawned a bunch of ideas for other tracks I wanted to have on the album (Human, Skeleton and Shy Girls)... so it'll always be the most important song that I’ll have written.”
Anavae have battled with their demons and emerged victorious, the culmination of their career thus far and all the challenges they have faced along the way has propelled them forward to create a body of work so meticulously accomplished it seems impossible to deny its merit. Between the dingy club beats that accentuate the exasperated mood of ‘Hold On’, the lamenting bow-out of ‘California’ and the rest of the songs that embody 45, Anavae have managed to capture liquid divinity, bottle it, and release it in audio format to charm and enthral all who hear its allure. A perfect record deserving of a perfect score.