Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Jon Ashley
There's a fairly new Internet start-up or collective, it's sort of unclear, where people in certain cities can propose the subject for a course that they could teach. They must be experts in the matter and the subject could be anything at all. It's not affiliated with any school and the students that would select to take said course would meet wherever they could - a café, a coffeehouse, an apartment - gathering for the sake of learning something. Grades probably aren't handed out. Something that I wish someone in the Iowa/Illinois area would offer would be a course that thoroughly discusses and dissects the state of mind that singer and songwriter Anika is in when she lays her head down to sleep at night. Actually, perhaps we could just get the ghost-haired singer herself to have a residency here for a few weeks and I could just ask her all of the questions that have presented themselves. Here I am thinking such things and I can't say that I'd even really want to know what's going on inside that pretty little head of hers. It must be incredible. It must be startling. In listening to her self-titled debut, she is presented as a thrilling writer with impossible to pin down motives. She seems to be bitten by a bug that leaves her hampered either by insomnia or a sensation that leaves her wanting to rush quickly back to a soft mattress and a pillow so that she can dive headlong back into the colorful dreams, terrors and imagery that are inspiring and slippery.
She sounds like someone who spends a lot of her time talking to herself, as she seems to in "Officer Officer." It could just be an explanation, coming clean or putting it all out there. She didn't see the man pick up the gun or do anything with the knife. It's all a mystery. It has the feeling of a statement being given from the other end of a tunnel or at the back of a dark alley, a drifter or a gypsy warming her hands over a flaming garbage can who cannot be started anymore. The character has seen a lot. She's gambled a lot and is no stranger to scenes of violent or disturbing coldness. The run-in with the law, or the accidental brush forces her to say, "Maybe I should have thrown my hands up high and said I did it/But I didn't throw my hands up high… I said, 'Officer, can I offer you a drink?' and he gratefully accepted." She sings about having her head in a noose and she's standing on a chair. There are worried tones and then there's what Anika works with and those are the incantations of a bewitching sorceress.
Her music - made with the help of the group Beaks - is engrossingly peculiar. It's conversational and it's dark. It winks at us. We want to be closer to it, drawn to be so close to it that we can feel its pulse without ever having to touch it. The vibes of the music worm into us that easily and make us feel like we're losing it. We feel as if we've seen the sun come up four times without ever going down. Our eyes have bugged out and we want to rub the crazy out of them, but Anika's put it in there to stay, so we can be just like her.