by Phil Scarisbrick
Spontaneity meets preparation – Anika’s Change is a stunning document of panic, resilience, self-doubt and empowerment
There’s nothing like the world grinding to a halt to give you the opportunity to make your first solo album in more than a decade. Not only are you limited in what you can actually do, but it also drives home the need for self-care, and to re-assess what is important. This is the circumstance that led Annika Henderson – under her nom de musique, Anika – to create her new record, Change. Although the project was already being thought about and planned, when she finally got into the studio to record, the mood of the world was injected into the tone of the album, as all the lyrics were written on the spot. This verbal ejecta adds to the overall tone of the album. There are moments of panic, resilience, self-doubt and empowerment throughout what is a truly stunning set of songs.
The album’s opener – which also acted as the lead single – is Finger Pies. It is a glimpse into the type of introspection that courses through Change. The track’s circling dialogue, with the person looking back at themselves in the mirror, has a vulnerability to it that seems to ebb away with every cycle – with our narrator becoming more and more stoic as she sings, ‘Some may say that you are only interested in one thing / That’s to get your own way.’
The title track adds further weight to the introspective nature of the record, but has a more universal applicability. It tackles the status quo and tries to wrestle with it – to manipulate it, to coerce it into something new, whether that is from a personal point of view, or the wider world we inhabit. The sharp electronic percussion drives the song along with a descending synth melody adding colour as Anika repeats ‘I think we can change.’ Not quite fully convinced, but confident enough to at least give it a try.
Sand Witches creeps into life with electronic swells metronomically pulsing with sparse, thudding percussion fleetingly appearing. Anika’s spoken word delivery caps off the powerful sense of dread as she implores her target to ‘say it’. Once again dealing in double-entrendres, she is never quite clear whether she is looking inwards or outwards, or perhaps both as she says, ‘I don’t like what you’ve become.’
Never Coming Back uses the way her home in the old East of Berlin has been ornithologically-impacted by the human race’s environmental ABH. Once again though, she doesn’t project these issues solely onto others in a way that some artists would pontificate, but instead takes stock of her own accountability, singing, ‘I saw the warnings, I saw them all / I saw the warnings, I turned a blind eye.’
Change’s closing track, Wait For Something, with its roughly strummed guitar and marching drums, provides the most DIY sounding moment on the record, but also the most self-assured and resilient, as she sings ‘I’m not gonna be your fool.’ It brings to a close a record that has taken eleven years to arrive, but is well and truly worth the wait. The way that Anika tugs with your emotions, pairing definitive statements with ones that show self-doubt, allows you to connect more deeply on a human level. She vocalises things that we all feel – even if we’re not fully aware – and tries to use these examinations to be better: both for herself and those around her. It is a record that deserves to be heard far and wide.
If you’d like to support us by subscribing to our zine, click here – it’s just £6 a year for four copies (inc p&p).