Funky but off-target
When people describe music as challenging, it often indicates an album that didn’t meet expectations but feels artistically significant. It seems likely that Anika’s Change is going to receive the “challenging” label from more than a few people. A funky journey through a wealth of tones and thoughts, the album somehow falls a bit flat. Despite all this, it demands that people consider it, even if the consideration leaves one wanting.
Listening through the album, one can grasp flashes of thoughtfulness. The lyrics invite a variety of interpretations while adhering cleanly to a theme, or at least a mood, but the picture never becomes clear enough to really pull the listener into the right mindset. Take, for instance, the opening track “Finger Pies,” with its refrain of “Some may say that you are/ only interested in one thing/ and that’s getting your own way.” The first go-through seems thoughtful and considered, but little other detail is provided to make this enticing line into something meaningful. It’s further impeded by the oddly off-kilter vocal delivery. Words hit flatly and at odd times as if they were sung to an entirely different track. It’s again the sort of thing that feels deliberate, but the purpose never becomes clear.
Sadly, things do not improve. The lyrics on the following track, “Critical,” are aided by the title, which implies that the “cyanide in his little kiss” is the sharp criticism that the subject of the song always shoots Anika’s direction. A strange insistence on reusing words and rhythms impedes the song’s ability to grow. It’s not until people reach the title track “Change” that things improve in any meaningful sense. Anika’s vocal performance much more closely sticks to a comprehensible tempo, the points where it falls off feel like deliberate additions to the more standard vocal portions. Her choice of instrumentation is also more interesting and effective on “Change.”
But again, moving through the tracklist, there is little to impress. “Never Coming Back” suffers from all the aforementioned issues. Atop these issues lay a dull instrumental track that does nothing to make up for an altogether weak track. Thankfully, this isn’t always the case. Even as the vocals let people down, most tracks have enough inherent in their instrumentals that it provides a redeeming factor. “Freedom” stands out as the best example of great instrumentation. A Cyberpunk 2077-style synth groove buoys an impressive lyrical and vocal performance from Anika. It’s a shame that the rest of the album could not follow suit.
Ultimately, Change provides little to titillate the imagination of a listener. Everything about the record feels as though it were halfway developed towards something genuinely exciting. There’s a faint scent of ingenuity wafting from most tracks, but it is buried beneath an insurmountable hill of mundanity. It’s a shame, given the skill that is clearly displayed in parts, that the album could not live up to its most impressive bits. Instead, people are left with a project that is interesting but so far left of a bullseye that it leaves little impression.