[Album Review] Animalia- Mouth Full of Teeth
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by Mark Anthony Brennan
animalia

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Release Date: June 4th, 2014
Label: Killjoy Collective

I read recently somewhere that electronic music is currently a creative wasteland. Maybe so, but there are still some acts around worthy enough to restore its good name. Case in point, Animalia (a.k.a. Jill Krasnicki), who may be favourably compared to the likes of Goldfrapp, St.Vincent, and even Bjork. None of those are “electronic artists”, you say? Precisely. In emulating the example set by these excellent female songwriters Krasnicki deftly avoids the pitfall of placing too heavy an emphasis on sound effects and gimmicks at the expense of solid song structure.

“Agitated” starts things off with a bang, or perhaps more of a metallic clang. Krasnicki makes full use of her vocal capabilities as her voice soars and swoops over the bed of sinister synthetic rhythm. Things get even more interesting on “Cosmic Swaying”, where the song slowly builds from a near whisper to the loud and proud assertion, “You’ve got nothing on me/You’ve got nothing, nothing”. And all of this to a Terminator-like staccato beat. The album lulls somewhat in the middle but comes back strong with the blush-inducing “Space Penetration” (don’t ask) before hitting the record’s stunning high point, “Stifling”, a song that at first seems to be heading into Nine Inch Nails territory. Krasnicki, however, throws everything for a loop with the oddest vocal delivery on the album. Curious for sure, but great stuff.

Another criticism that is levelled at today’s electronica is that it’s often just MOR R & B with the merest patina of synthetic music. Animalia? Forget it. Even on her most “contemporary” sounding song, “What Do You Want”, there are some unexpected chord changes that rescue the song from devolving into trite radio fodder.

Krasnicki fails to fully integrate her vocals with the background electronics the way that, say, Portishead did, but then again she is a singer-songwriter first and foremost (in fact, she started out as an acoustic act).  Nevertheless, she has enough command over the sound she wants to generate, and displays such an artistry in doing so, that she deserves to be considered among the ranks of electronic performers such as fellow Canadians Braids and Purity Ring.