EMA’s New Album Captures the Sound of Looming Chaos

The third offering from singer Erika M. Anderson unspools ominous tales of alienation and anger.

EMA

Exile in the Outer Ring

City Slang

Chromatic PR

Exile in the Outer Ring is the sound of looming chaos. Recorded primarily in what she calls a “shitty apartment” in Portland, Ore., the gripping third album from Erika M. Anderson, aka EMA, drowns deceptively catchy pop melodies in shadowy, delirious vocals, damaged old-school electronics and menacing beats, unspooling ominous tales of alienation and anger. “He wanted me to blow the breathalyzer/Out on his truck cuz he was going somewhere,” she murmurs in one especially eerie interlude, elsewhere repeatedly chanting, “I wanna destroy,” to chilling effect. If Anderson’s dark vignettes—including the timely track “Aryan Nation”—seem attuned to contemporary stresses, lines like “Everyone thinks you’re worthless/When you’re down and out” connect her arresting work to the deepest traditions of the blues.