Published Aug 26, 2018Anna Calvi may be indie rock's most accomplished pleasure seeker. The British songwriter is a bravura singer and a virtuosic guitarist, but her recordings are rarely flashy or gratuitous. Instead, she withholds the gratification of her skills, often unleashing them in rapturous crescendos that fulfill her lyrical themes of desire, power and gender dynamics.
All three continue to comingle on Calvi's third album, which she describes as "a utopian vision" of gender and sexuality. Indeed, Hunter is bountiful with idylls, from the title track's sanctuary of play to the "waves of desire" on "Swimming Pool" to the airy chorus of "Indies or Paradise." Conveyed through Calvi's soaring vocals and arrangements, these settings coalesce as nirvanas of queer identity and desire.
Those themes recur more blatantly throughout Hunter's lyrics and music. "As a Man" and "Don't Beat the Girl out of My Boy" suggest a connection only possible through discarded gender norms, and while Calvi's lyrics still lean hard on binaries and dichotomies, the repetition on "Chain" starts to blur those lines into meaninglessness — its stuttering chorus recalls Bowie's "Changes," while the disco-by-way-of-dance-punk beat on "Wish" similarly channels queer icons of old. Calvi remains in firm control on Hunter, but she lets loose more than enough moments of bliss to satisfy. (Domino)