This page has been archived and is no longer updated.Find out more about page archiving. Ladyhawke Anxiety Review
Album. Released 2012.
Pip Brown’s overdue second LP is as tight and catchy as a baseball mitt.
Nick Levine 2012
Even a staunch Ladyhawke supporter could be forgiven for approaching this record with caution. For a start, there's the title. Calling an album Anxiety hardly smacks of self-confidence, especially when that album is the follow-up to a well-regarded debut. Critics praised the first Ladyhawke LP when it came out in 2008; pop buffs wanted it to sell better than it eventually did.
Nor is the title entirely tongue-in-cheek. Pip Brown, the singer-songwriter behind the Ladyhawke name, piled so much pressure on herself that making this album "felt like a two-year-long anxiety attack". Factor in several delays to release date and an ugly cliché slithers onto the tongue…
Thankfully, notions of a "sophomore slump" can be dismissed. Anxiety is a pretty cracking second album, though it's not the second album fans might have expected. The first Ladyhawke record worked a twinkly synth-pop sound, prompting comparisons to 1980s pop idols Kim Wilde and Cyndi Lauper. This is an album of fuzzy guitar-pop tunes. In fact, Anxiety features no synths at all, only some retro-sounding organ parts from Pascal Gabriel, Brown's co-writer/producer on all 10 tracks.
Ladyhawke still sounds like Ladyhawke, just tougher and more muscular, like Ladyhawke after a boot camp. She's broadened her remit too. Anxiety's reference points range from the 1960s psychedelia of album opener Girl Like Me to Britpop and beyond: closing track Gone Gone Gone cribs its vocal hooks from The Dandy Warhols' 2000 hit Bohemian Like You.
In between, there are power-pop gems aplenty. Sunday Drive is a wistful mix of Blondie and 1980s Fleetwood Mac. Cellophane aims for the widescreen grandeur of David Bowie's "Heroes" and doesn't disgrace itself. Blue Eyes is an infectious Joan Jett-channelling kiss-off.
Infectious is a key word here. The anxiety of the title may permeate the lyrics – one song acknowledges the connection between "self-destruction", "self-obsession" and "vanity", while another pushes its luck by rhyming "cautious" with "nauseous". But it doesn't affect the quality of the music: Anxiety is as tight and catchy as a baseball mitt. On this evidence, one thing that needn't cause Pip Brown anxiety is her ear for a tune.