by Justin Dudzinski
Hopelessness by Anohni is a call to action, proclaiming that if we continue on this trajectory, our future is bleak. This album is a medium for Anohni’s critical messages on a variety of social issues, from climate change to drone bombings, and an expression of the artist’s personal transgender experience. Art can be used as a medium to spark change and conversation about the topics that many try to avoid, and this album masters that.
Released May 13, this album is Anohni’s manifesto, spreading her “future feminism” ideology, bonding feminism and environmentalism. In Hopelessness, Anohni perfects the art of the protest song.
Hopelessness is Anohni’s debut solo album under that moniker, although she has been the lead of the critically acclaimed group Antony and the Johnsons since 1995. Anohni is transgender and uses feminine pronouns, and even was the first openly transgender performer ever nominated for an Academy Award. This album is an early contender for Album of the Year; however, it is much more than that.
Anohni’s album takes on political controversies in a nuanced way by assuming the points of view of different “characters.” “4 Degrees,” for example, is sung from the perspective of a climate change denier to satirize such deniers. She sings, “I want to see this world, I want to see it boil.... I want to see the fish go belly up in the sea,” urging listeners to realize the harm they’re doing to the environment before it’s too late.
On the lead single, “Drone Bomb Me,” Anohni sings a love ballad to a drone bomb, from the perspective of a seven-year-old girl whose family was killed in a drone strike. The line “Let me be the one, the one you choose from above,” criticizes the U.S. government’s use of drones by addressing innocent civilians killed.
She questions the Obama administration again later in the album on the aptly titled track, “Obama,” singing “When you were elected/ The world cried for joy/ We thought we had empowered/ The truthtelling envoy/ Now the news is you are spying/ Executing without trial/ Betraying virtues/ Scarring closed the sky.”
The list of political issues discussed doesn’t end there. Anohni critiques the NSA scandal, the death penalty and capitalism.
But the most powerful message she portrays is her own story. “I Don’t Love You Anymore” is about her rejecting the things that harmed her as a trans woman in society, including capitalism and patriarchy, and showing her disdain for the state of Western society. A vocal critic of society’s views of trans people, Anohni brings necessary attention to an underrepresented and disenfranchised group.
This project is a stark warning. Anohni’s music shows the harsh truths and frightening realities we are going to face in the near future if no change occurs. This album should be listened to—not only because of the hauntingly beautiful music it contains, but because of the critical message Anohni has to share with the world.