No one can accuse thirty-year-old avant-R&B artist Arthur Ashin, otherwise known as Autre Ne Veut, of being overly scripted. He begins a new album when “a theme gels;” comes to lyrics not by writing, but by simply stepping into the studio and howling into the mike; and named his forthcoming record Anxiety because it was his “gut thought.” “I had been going through a weirdly stressful period of time while I was working on the album,” says the Brooklyn-based musician, “and kept coming back to this initial idea.” The LP, a ten-track collection of heartfelt pop-R&B ruminations on sex, fading relationships, and death, is Ashin’s second full-length and his most unrestrained release to date. It’s disarmingly honest (the first single, “Counting,” is about being too afraid to call his grandmother because he might find out she’s dead), surprisingly polished (Ashin moved from the bedroom to a full-on production studio for this one) and packed with slow-building synths and sky-reaching falsetto. It’s also Ashin’s most streamlined offering: “In my first album, I was stacking sounds to try and create more and more layers,” explains Ashin, “but this time, there are very rarely two things going on at once. The music I was referencing—Timbaland, late-Nineties/early-Aughts producers—felt more contemporary, and the record really felt embedded in the past year-and-a-half of my life.”
Anxiety is out now from Mexican Summer.