New York combo Antony and the Johnsons have made what Billboard magazine is calling “a dramatic debut” at No. 1 on their European Albums chart with their new full-length The Crying Light. The album is a Top 5 smash in countries from Sweden to Spain, and beats out both Duffy and Pink in the pan-Euro chart. Light is Antony and the Johnsons’ third studio album, coming nearly four years after the Mercury Prize-winning I am a Bird Now, but its popularity may have something to do with singer Antony Hegarty’s part in Hercules and Love Affair, whose “Blind” was one of the biggest dance songs of 2008.
The Crying Light, released last week, is getting good, if not stellar, reviews: Pitchfork gives it 8.6 out of 10 hipster points, but most other reviews come in below that. Rolling Stone and The Guardian both offered three out of five stars, with the latter saying the album feels familiar, stuck under “its predecessor’s shadow,” while acknowledging that Hegarty’s voice is an “acquired taste.” The album has yet to make much of an impact in the U.S., showing up only at #38 on the iTunes Alternative Albums chart. I’m kind of with the Guardian: I’d listen to Antony, with his rich, strange warble, sing his way through the phone book, but after the blast of shocking originality and heartrending emotion that was I Am a Bird Now, perhaps they could have pushed forward musically just a smidge. It’s still beautiful music, though, by anyone’s standards. Check out track one below.
“Her Eyes Are Underneath the Ground”