Getting out her Let’s Dance guitar pedal and blasting out that falsetto for the first time since 2013’s One Breath, Anna Calvi reaches for the sky and bursts through the clouds on her third, benchmark-setting, album, Hunter.
Beginning with the strut and arch observations about love and sex (both as a gender descriptor and as an act) of As A Man, and the more direct-yet-sensual passions of Hunter, the album positions itself as an ode to sensuality. The latter song’s image of a lover dressed in leather but with flowers in their hair a lovelorn image of the way feral passion and tender love create their unique rollercoaster. The Heartbreakers-meets-The-Cure riffing of Don’t Beat The Girl Out Of My Boy then storms the barricades and makes you realise why the presence of both Calvi and St. Vincent on the music scene has somewhat closed the gaping chasm of quality adult rock left by the departures of Bowie and Prince (alas, nothing will fill the hole in our hearts – but that’s for another day).
So good is Don’t Beat… that you fear the album will be front-loaded with quality and then fizzle away, but Indies And Paradise somehow gets away with channelling U2’s Bullet The Blue Sky, whilst Swimming Pool is a gorgeous dazzler, glistening arpeggios giving way to an ending that’s so widescreen it might have somehow been recorded in Cinemascope. Album closer Eden continues the gorgeousness, evoking Jeff Buckley by way of The War On Drugs, and also continues the intimate yet vivid depictions of bittersweet life and love. It’s a turmoil you won’t mind staying with and keeping on repeat for a good while.
Anna Calvi returns to raise the bar not just for her own evocative, singular brand of punkish rock, but also for whatever peers she may have. Giddily majestic.
Anna Calvi’s Hunter is out now via Domino Records.