Serve me up an electronic shot mixed with synchronistic percussion and a dash of introspective lyrics, and you’ve just come close to creating the multi-talented/instrumented musician, Ladyhawke. Born Phillipa “Pip” Brown in the picturesque New Zealand town of Masterton, Brown dabbled in various bands before emerging as a solo artist in 2008. Citing her reference to “Ladyhawke”, a 1985 fantasy film starring Michelle Pfeiffer, as her own interpretation of a musical superwoman, Brown doesn’t disappoint by playing all of her own instruments (six in total) on top of supplying vocals. With the recent release of her second album, Anxiety, Brown/Ladyhawke tacks on a catchy, pop chart-topper to her growing discography. I’m no doctor, but if an album title represents its content, a more relevant name might have been ‘Manic Depressive’.  Anxiety just felt too even-keeled.

Commencing with the playful ‘Girl Like Me’, a definite tone is set for the rest of the album that lands somewhere between dance cave and jaded seductress. Ladyhawke’s heavily synthesized sound is not a far stretch from artists like Santigold and Marina and the Diamonds. But it’s the complex production, and the fact that Brown herself is producing each and every sound, that makes a decided difference from the others. [Side note: Her live show would be undoubtedly awesome.] Songs ‘Black, White & Blue’, ‘Vaccine, ‘Anxiety’, and ‘Gone, Gone, Gone’ are speedy and vibrant, painting multiple brainwave patterns. They’re nicely balanced by the darker themed ‘Sunday Drive’ and ‘The Quick & The Dead’, which play with more pronounced minor key beats.

Brown’s vocals are well suited to the grinding, futuristic background sounds, and at times brought me back to Ace of Base’s lead vocalist, Linn Berggren. At other times, however, her voice became lackluster and one-dimensional, in comparison to previous tracks. The shining stars of Anxiety were definitely the instruments and complicated, interlocking chords. Listeners longing for some serious vocal range and performance could leave unfulfilled.

Anxiety is clearly a work of labour and love, and the answer for those in search of a good, solid dance beat. Whatever inner turmoil Ladyhawke shares with us through her music, the compilation reflects a range of confident sounds that are far from uneasy.

Purchase on iTunes here.

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