© 2023 WFAE
90.7 Charlotte 93.7 Southern Pines 90.3 Hickory 106.1 Laurinburg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Antony And The Johnsons: Imposingly Sad

For a performer who makes gender boundaries bend to his will, Antony Hegarty steers well clear of camp, instead opting to power his dreamlike dirges with the winsome gravitas of a tortured outsider. Hegarty's persona revolves around a futile search for comfort, acceptance and even forgiveness, and in the process, he constantly tiptoes on the line separating melancholy and mawkishness. But he stays on the right side of it by infusing his music with palpable heartsickness.

It's been three years since Antony & The Johnsons' beloved full-length debut, I Am a Bird Now, and yet he's returned with only a five-song tease: The Another World EP features the first single from an album to be released early next year, while tacking on four extra songs. The best of those, "Hope Mountain," finds Hegarty offering up only a vague sketch of what lands somewhere between a fairy tale and a folk tale, with some whispers of deeper spiritual meaning at the end. But it may be his most wrenchingly gorgeous song yet, thanks in large part to a piano hook that's as catchy as it is imposingly, almost oppressively sad.

Listen to yesterday's Song of the Day, and subscribe to the Song of the Day newsletter.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)