Release Date: Jun 2, 2017
Record label: 4AD
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
T he title of 21-year-old Hannah Rodgers' first album may seem like an attempt to capitalise on the zeitgeist but, satisfyingly, is actually taken from a 1947 Auden poem about industrialisation. There's plenty more pleasingly cliche-defying action from Pixx here - who looks like a hip south London art school student but actually went to the Brit school, and who makes ethereal electro but performs it as if she might nut you at any moment. Perhaps the most obvious touchstone for Rodgers' crisp and airy pop is British electronica of the late 90s, with the new-agey lyrics and otherworldly sonic motifs bringing to mind Zero 7, Dubstar, Morcheeba, and, occasionally, Lemon Jelly jolliness.
On Hannah Rodgers’ debut release as Pixx, her 2015 EP ‘Fall In’, she cut a forlorn figure, weary at heart and introspective. Straight off the bat, calling her first full-length ‘The Age Of Anxiety’ indicated that this new collection would turn the focus outwards. Opener and standout track ‘I Bow Down’, an intriguing and creepy documentation of giving into both internal and external pressures, is set over a spider’s web of synths.
With alumni like Adele, Jessie J, and Katies B, Melua and Nash, you'd be forgiven for assuming anyone attending Croydon's famed BRIT School now expects nothing less than a catapult into the chart firmament; a surefire path to somewhere near the toppermost of the post-millennial pop mountain. But for Hannah Rodgers, who enrolled at 16, the path after graduating was quite different. There were support slots for the likes of East India Youth, Glass Animals and Lush, while her first EP as Pixx, 2015's Fall In, appeared via the hallowed 4AD.
If writing is about making sense of the world around you, Pixx is a fully-fledged craftsperson of the modern age. And what is art for if not attempting to find comfort in shared feelings - be they jubilance or distress? Anything released in 2017 is surely going to have a smattering of uncertainty, even if it's coming from a BRIT school graduate who resides in leafy Surrey. And Pixx's synth-fuelled pop offering doesn't shy away from that.
"The great vice of our age," W.H. Auden lamented in a letter to his friend Theodore Spencer after the publication of his final book-length poem, The Age of Anxiety, "is that we are all not only 'actors' but know that we are. It is only at moments, in spite of ourselves, and when we least expect it that our real feelings break through." Auden felt we had been paralyzed by our own self-awareness--that the more we reflected on our place in the world, the more entrenched in it we became.
Try to imagine for a minute what it would sound like if Nico fronted an 80s synth band; now, stop imagining because that's exactly what Pixx's debut album The Age of Anxiety sounds like. It's pretty evident that 21-year-old BRIT school graduate Pixx is a big 80s head, blending the gothic post-punk of Siouxsie Sioux with the avant-garde synth-pop of Kate Bush, but she does it all with a modern electro-pop twist. There are straight-up pop bangers all over The Age of Anxiety, with stand outs including Grip, Romance and Waterslides.