Reviews

Anna Meredith
Varmints

(Moshi Moshi)

8/10

For anybody slightly intimidated by the hyper-intellectualism of Holly Herndon and ‘Platform’ last year, perhaps Anna Meredith is for you. Sure, a glance at Meredith’s biography should be enough to signpost that this debut LP won’t entirely be an easy ride. Former composer-in-residence with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the London-born, Edinburgh-raised 38-year-old has scored for the Proms, wrung bassoons (yes, bassoons) through guitar distortion pedals and produced aural accompaniments for MRI scanners for previous projects.

Unlike Herndon’s collection of glitch-filled, vocally-contorted ruminations on big ideas, though, Meredith’s record balances its avant-garde indulgences with fully-formed songs and recognisable instruments (or at least approximations of them) to delve into the minutiae of modern life. Granted, instrumental opener ‘Nautilus’ throws the listener right in at the deep end, a phalanx of processed horns marching atop a wobbly bass line (curiously, the track is also well over three years old).

Immediately thereafter though, the arpeggiated melodies of recent single ‘Taken’ and ‘Scrimshaw’ open the gates to an outright accessibly outré electronic record, capped off by the delicately beautiful ‘Something Helpful’ and the brittle synth-pop of album highlight ‘Dowager’.

Half of ‘Varmints’ eschews vocals but with odd exception (like the grating oscillator knob-twiddling on ‘Honeyed Words’) Meredith manages to cloak high-minded experimentalism in playful pop sensibility.

Support Loud And Quiet from £3 per month and we'll post you our next 9 magazines

As all of us are constantly reminded, it’s getting harder for independent publishers to stay in business, which applies to Loud And Quiet more now than ever, 14 years after we first started printing a magazine that we’ve always given away for free.

Having thought about the best way to support the costs of what we do (the printing and server fees, the podcast and video production costs etc.) we’d like to ask our readers who really enjoy what we do to subscribe to our next 9 issues over the next 12 months. The cheapest we can afford to do this for is a recurring payment of £3 per month for UK subscribers. If you really start to hate it you can cancel at any time. The same goes for European subscriptions (£6 per month) and the rest of the world (£8 per month).

It’s not just a donation – you’ll receive a physical copy of our magazine through your door, and some extra perks detailed on our subscribe page. Digital subscriptions are available worldwide for £15 per year. We hope you consider this a good deal and the best way to keep Loud And Quiet in your life without its content, independence or existence suffering.