The latest offering from Android Lust, Shikhee’s one-woman outfit fleshed out with a whole bunch of studio and live performance talent, is a slick affair. The edges of in-your-face album The Dividing have been filed off, but there’s plenty of sting in the lyrics and rewarding musicianship to boot.
The Human Animal opens with Intimate Stranger, with a NIN-like build of ominous synths and whispered male vocals, then Shikhee’s trademark siren call kicks in and the song evolves into a synth-laden rocker. The song title is perhaps indicative of what follows: a meditative though not necessarily quiet exploration of the base impulses of the human animal.
There’s an ongoing theme of obsession, lust, self-abasement, love gone awry — nothing new there for this artist — all humming along on the industrial beat with some superb touches: highlights from guitars and violin, heartbeat bass, and some captivating changes of pace.
What gives her music a real edge is her distinctive vocal style — the raw need is obvious, whether in earthy, rasping lows or that soaring, nail-scratching high — and canny phrasing. Saint Over is a good example — fuzz guitar and clever key changes, and a winning lyric: “Tried to show my concern while I thought
About my cat and my laundry”.
It’s not all industrial blur: check the strut and swing of God in the Hole, for instance, and the percussive drive of It’s On You, the quiet keys on the introspective 1minute30 The Return, the jazzy strut and drum break of A New Heaven.
There’s no filler here, each song distinctive within itself, yet fitting the overall feel of the album making it truly cohesive. Suspicions about a remix of God in the Hole closing out the album are laid to rest: it’s a sublime re-imagining, transforming a marching beat to a dirge and putting extra emphasis on the words. Nice.
The Human Animal shows further development, maturation perhaps (it *has* been four years since her last album), of an artist exploring the inner and outer self. It’s an album that triggers the urge to go back and load the stacker with the albums to date — this is the fourth studio LP — to track the ongoing journey of a remarkable talent.