A Book by Its Cover Song
Journalists by nature are often short and to the point with their work. Anika, a former journalist who has split her time the past few years between England and Germany, bears this mark of her former occupation in her musical endeavors, as this simple six-song EP shows. Much in the same vein as her debut album, Anika EP is primarily covers. In fact, two of the covers here, “I Go to Sleep” and “Yang Yang,” originally by the Kinks and Yoko Ono respectively, make appearances on both releases.
Clearly, minimalism is the order of the day for Anika, and even when things get slightly more involved toward the latter half of the EP with a decidedly reggae influence (both “Yang Yang” and “No One’s There” are dubs), the sense of “less is more” gives the album a unique feel. The wide open nature of the listening landscape allows the listener to hear many influences here, and that is aside from the influence of the songs she covers on the record. There’s a Nico-esque tint to the vocals, the smatterings of punk and post-punk’s dips into reggae, as well as just an overall lo-fi aesthetic.
Take, for instance, her deconstruction of Shocking Blue’s “Love Buzz.” Opting for a sharper and more fractured approach rather than the original’s slinky and slippery weirdness, Anika somewhat does for the track what Devo did with the Rolling Stone’s “Satisfaction.” Basically, it takes the song to a different place. This is perhaps most evident in the vocal, as it manages to not only outdo the seductive and sadistic vocal of the original, but take it an extra length to the realm of the undead. If it wasn’t so interestingly performed, the vocal would be positively unnerving.
The opening duo of “I Go to Sleep” and the Crystals’ “He Hit Me” proves to be an intriguing thematic dichotomy of tracks to begin the record, as the former is a sweet and quirky little jaunt that would probably touch Ray Davies’ heart, while the latter is offered as a cold and conflicted lament concerning a masochistic relationship. Both are well done, and their stark contrasts both thematically and sonically really give the album a kick right out the gate. Elsewhere, “In the City,” a run-through of a Chromatics tune, balances an almost buoyant lo-fi–disco hybrid against Anika’s trademark cutting vocal that, in less nuanced hands, would likely come off monumentally boring. To be perfectly honest, of all the tracks here, “Yang Yang,” which was the lead single from the preceding LP, is the least interesting achievement of the bunch.
Though this release might not have covered much more terrain than the debut, Anika EP is an ecclectic group of songs performed with an artistic vigor that might not be immediately recognizable when taken at face value. Though Anika’s style or repertoire may not be wholly original, the amalgamation of her influences, paired with a polarizing delivery, make her an interesting figure on today’s musical landscape.