11 years ago, Berlin-based singer Anika released her self-titled debut album, which, as that title suggests, was a unique reflection of the album’s namesake. Minimalistic, Anika heavily emphasized the artist’s deep vocals and slow beats. Since dropping her debut, Anika, a former political journalist born Annika Henderson, has released albums with Exploded View and Shackleton. Change is Anika’s second solo release under her name, and as the title again implies, this record is a bit of a left turn from her previous work.
Dropping nearly a decade after her debut, Change contains elements from that album—her signature powerhouse vocals and poppy beats are both present. Here, however, from those components, variegated and vibrant accompanying textures have blossomed. Instead of polishing up techniques implemented for the first record, Anika is rewriting the formula on Change. If there are two types of musicians, those who refine their sound and those who attempt something different with each record, Anika definitely proves to fall into the latter category, as proven with her new LP.
Change is a colorful album with swinging-’60s vibes coupled with contemporary synth pop. The record is like an homage to Françoise Hardy, Nancy Sinatra, and France Gall, all with a cool confidence that’s unique to Anika. On “Finger Pies,” for instance, bright digital effects mingle with cool, slick singing. Musically, Change almost feels like a modernized collection of ballads like the kind singer-songwriters of the ’60s released. To that end, Change is not only culturally sustaining, it’s also culturally inspiring.
There’s a sense of authorial command with Anika’s vocal performance and songwriting. The clear singing on Change presents vocals as a focal point for accompanying instrumentation. The vocals also showcase tightly written, literary lyrics, all of which vary from song to song in terms of narrative elements. Tracks like “Critical” show a transgressive lyrical quality, particularly when Anika sings, “I always give my man the last word / I always give him what he deserves / But don’t forget that little twist / Of cyanide in his little gift.” “Sand Witches” is more poetic, achieved through a repetition in instrumentation and reflective storytelling qualities. Here, Anika sings, “And the beautiful rivers of old now run with blood and the tears of your forsaken kin / I don’t like what I see, I don’t like what you’ve become.” Still, other songs offer an upbeat and liberating experience, like on “Rights.” The result is an eclectic and diverse range of songwriting that is unpredictable and engaging.
Witnessing Anika’s evolution from her debut to sophomore album is like experiencing the world go from black and white to color. Change is a cool and sunny album with powerful artistic merit and value. Anika proves to be an innovative musician with more than a few surprises in store for listeners.