Anna Meredith’s second studio record thumps. That’s not to say ‘FIBS’ lacks nuance, but that Meredith rarely falters in her pursuit of creating giddy, operatic, and uncomfortable electronic music. Her new album sounds full-bodied, it sounds well-arranged, and most of all, Meredith sounds completely sure of herself.
Such assured idiosyncrasy on a second album isn’t as surprising when you consider Meredith’s career as a composer. She’s been Composer in Residence with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, a regular contributor on the Proms, and just this year received an MBE for services to music for heaven's sake. And yet her electronic work still feels distinguished, acting as an extrapolation of her multifaceted talents into a space devoid of expectations.
The opening double-barrelled shotgun of ‘Sawbones’ and ‘Inhale Exhale’ best exemplifies the duality of Meredith’s hyperactive production style. The former is gaudy and full of dread, a constantly accelerating ghost train ride, while the latter careens into the same bubblegum pop landscape occupied by Kero Kero Bonito and the PC Music brigade. It's part of Meredith’s charm that her melodies are always a little unstable and a little uncanny.
What a surprise it is then when the album’s best moment is its most measured and quiet. The delicate ‘moonsmoons’ opens itself up slowly, blossoming gradually into an evocative spiral of strings and celestial synths, before tumbling back in on itself. Meredith’s vision of space as melancholy, majestic, and ultimately bloody terrifying, in turn, serves as an apt descriptor of her own work.
So what is Meredith aiming for on ‘FIBS’? It’s undoubtedly a disparate record, pulling together staccato brass arpeggios and off-key vocals; indie guitar hooks and bizarre electronic ramblings. It’s also a resolutely complex record, adopting an extradimensional "...and the kitchen sink" attitude. More than anything else though, ‘FIBS’ sees Meredith burrowing into her niche. Less pioneer than just staunchly self-possessed, it’s a hell of a lot of fun coming along for the ride.