This is Erika M Anderson’s great American novel. The buzz and sway, the sense of alienation make it far more more Tama Janowitz than Mark Twain; it’s all there.
It’s the sound of realising that somewhere beyond the naive hope of youth, in the afterburn and comedown, after all that you hoped and strived for, it’s possible to see too much, even if it’s just the sticky stains of last month’s booze and pizza vomit round the corner from the smart main doors of the mall in Main Street USA. The official line is that Anderson is “dealing with the fact that certain ideas that once seemed futuristic are now the norm”. It’s much more about internet-driven social mores, living an advertised life, the entrails of your soul across spread across stranger’s screens, than it is about sci-fi tech. There’s a lovely dichotomy in ‘Dead Celebrity’ where reflections on the web’s ability to horribly and pruriently intrude on us all are set to the muffled echo of marching Dixie, replete with fireworks. Or is it gunfire, who knows.
Even when there’s not a guitar in sight, this has the driven feel of 70’s rock music, albeit with a complete lack of bombast. In some ways it’s a difficult album to tune in to, and that’s a paradoxical positive. The dense layering, the way it’s recorded down in the depths of somewhere, draw you in in and demand attention. Next thing you know, you’re head down in the cans, and it’s done its trick pulling you into the album narrative, in a way that is distinctly old fashioned in a world when we’re told that all anyone does these days is download individual tracks. No one gave EMA that memo. Her last album was the same in that respect, no big obvious singles but the piece as a whole gaining plaudits and independent chart places that truly exceeded the sum of the parts. With the probable exception of the expansive ‘So Blonde’, this one has all the portents of doing the same, and I’m convinced that if that’s Erika’s fate, she’ll be happy with it.
The Future’s Void is released on 7thApril 2014 through City Slang Records