EMA album review: ‘The Future’s Void’


EMA (aka Erika M. Anderson) will be performing int the Washington, DC area. (Alessandro Simonetti)
April 17, 2014
EMA
“The Future’s Void”

Kindred spirits: Sonic Youth, Cat Power, Liz Phair

Show: With Downtown Boys on Thursday at the Rock & Roll Hotel. Show starts at
8 p.m. 202-388-7625. www.rockandrollhoteldc.com. $12.

Erika M. Anderson, who records under her initials, EMA, doesn’t shy away from honesty. Her previous album, “Past Life Martyred Saint,” dwelled on the breakup of both her band, Gowns, and a personal relationship. On her latest, “The Future’s Void,” the singer-
songwriter turns her attention to the damaging effects of the digital age.

“Feel like I blew my soul out across the inter-webs and streams,” she sighs on the reflective “3Jane,” capturing the regret of social-media mavens everywhere. More impressively, Anderson channels that same unsettled feeling beyond her words: The ominous noise of “Smoulder” lands somewhere between a groan and a yawn, unleashing an uneasy, brutally emotional rawness. The track “Cthulu” (a reference to the H.P. Lovecraft short story “The Call of Cthulhu”) starts as a menacing march before Anderson launches into a howl that seems measured and uncontained at the same time.

Sometimes Anderson takes her subject a little too far. The goofiness of lyrics such as “making a living off of taking selfies” in “Neuromancer” snaps a listener out of the song’s industrial trance. That reference will certainly seem dated in a few years, but even in its absurdity, it captures this moment in time — the solipsism of the Instagram era.

Anderson doesn’t always hit the mark, but she sings from a place of conviction, and that alone makes “The Future’s Void” worth listening to.

Catherine P. Lewis

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