One of the brightest stars to light up the pop firmament this millennium is back, with a difference. Thanks to her brilliant self-titled 2008 debut, LADYHAWKE, aka Pip Brown, shot to stardom around the world, particularly in Britain and the Antipodes, where the New Zealand-born singer-songwriter soon gathered up armfuls of awards as THE breakthrough artist of the moment.
Her follow-up will surely even exceed those achievements, and establish the wildly talented young tunesmith as one of her generation’s most beloved pop heroines. Eighteen months in the making, ‘Anxiety’ carries ten instant classics, each brimming over with irresistable hooks, fresh beats and ear-grabbing synth sounds.
So far, so Ladyhawke, but changes are afoot. The last album’s signature instrument was unquestionably the analogue synthesizer. ‘Ladyhawke’ was all about Pip exploring the keyboards, which built the soundworld of her ’80s heroes [chiefly: ELO and Fleetwood Mac]. This time, she has re-embraced the trusty implement, upon which not only the whole history of rock ‘n’ roll rests, but her own career, too – the electric guitar.
Before she dreamt up her solo alter ego, Pip’s rep back home was as a guitarist, not an ivory-tinkler. “For years, I was known as the rock chick,” she says, “because I played the Gibson Explorer guitar, and then I played a Firebird [two quintessentially rockin’ models]. I was always the girl playing heavy guitar and doing solos – you know, like, off to the side.” So, after touring ‘Ladyhawke’ around the globe, Pip decided to re-activate those skills, as the basis of a thrilling new sound for her second record.
‘Anxiety’ is duly awash with riffs and lovingly distorted guitar textures, bringing added energy and excitement to her insanely catchy melodies. ‘Blue Eyes’, for instance, features pulse-racing blasts of six-string noize, a wiggy solo, and a “na-na” chorus, all harking back to the age of glam-rock, and one of Pip’s absolute idols, Joan Jett. The title track’s refrain, meanwhile, hinges on stadium-torching chord changes, while ‘Black, White & Blue’ has the fuzzy, disorientated vibe of a 1966 proto-psychedelic garage-rock nugget, plus another hot, spangly solo!
With such inventive and hyper-melodic gems laced throughout, ‘Anxiety’ is shaping up as one of 2012’s biggest albums. More delirium, anyone?