Label: Software Recording Co.
Yes, Autre Ne Veut a.k.a. Arthur Ashin is a white guy. And yes, he lives in Brooklyn. And as "indie" music continues to trend more and more towards R&B, fulfilling the prophetic critique that it spent too long being too white for its own good, so grows the number of funk-faking motherfuckers attempting to cut their product with something more... feeling. This, though? This is different.
Album opener "Play By Play" is as good a song about the desperation in breaking past the "friend zone" as has ever been recorded. It delivers with a chorus that's somehow equal parts hopeful, defeatist, and triumphant. You can't fake that, you can't Dr. Luke/Max Martin that, you can't just decide to record in a vocal register that could possibly displace listeners' spines.
Then comes "Counting," a different kind of desperation anthem, with a chorus absolutely slamming around what sounds like a sense of urgency about having sex inside of a collapsing building (but no, it's actually about his grandmother). Against a pulsing, knockaround beat, "Promises" is a for-the-absolute-last-time breakup note that's also an open-and-shut case for Ashin's strong producing instincts: vocal track magic aside, the two-minute song length is a sharp, perfect cut. And then there's the multi-layered gothic boom-bap of "Warning."
But maybe Anxiety is best summed up by the proposition that is "I Wanna Dance With Somebody," with its apologies-to-the-late-great-Whitney title alone suggesting a certain kind of gall, one that's either that of a brilliant prankster or someone who is completely and utterly serious about making important and meaningful R&B in 2013. —Foster Kamer