Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Anna B Savage provides thought-provoking excellence on in|FLUX


Release date: 17 February 2023
Anna B Savage - in|FLUX cover
15 February 2023, 00:00 Written by Ims Taylor

For all the noise Anna B Savage has built around them, at in|FLUX’s bubbling core lies its lyrical themes.

Savage seems primarily preoccupied with dissecting and diarising the breakdown of a toxic and painful relationship (or relationships) that was definitely right to break down. But through the course of the album, clarity comes: in|FLUX is not about what happened, or who was there, but about the experience of being unable to leave it behind. in|FLUX deals, at its heart, with an addicting, consuming, terrifying tangle of emotions too big to know what to do with – and whilst Savage doesn’t quite untangle them during the album’s runtime, she chronicles them with arresting dexterity and depth.

The subtleties of panic abound, anxiety-inducing and feverish even when the instrumentals verge on serene. “Say My Name” devolves into a howling, musically onomatopoeic maelstrom, unnerving and intense as Savage pleads “quick, somebody say my name” in an effort to keep hold of herself. “Touch Me” could almost, almost, masquerade as a mellow song, if not for the aching soulfulness of Savage’s vocals; “I Can Hear The Birds Now”’s organic background noises are already one of the most subtle, sunrise-dazzling sonics on the album, but accompanying Savage’s conversational murmurs they’re transcendent.

These are worlds she is weaving, an ethereally complete experience to hear and a hauntingly evocative way of comprehending the things she sings about in musical form. Armed with the arsenal of the current folk music’s canon of dark, distinct songwriting, Savage taps lightly into her instrumentals and production and employs it delicately: fight-or-flight sudden, the vocal layers double and distort on “Crown Shyness”’s spoken interlude, and otherworldly, “Feet of Clay” flickers with artificial, metropolitan synths. The emotional stories are vivid.

For the most part, Savage’s writing is utterly elemental – invoking the wild, dangerous comfort of the natural world throughout in|FLUX, she seems at home on the cusp between the earthly and divine, and the grey man-made. Her imagery is feminine, forceful, feral - hunger, desire, fear, pain, escape, pervasive mental ghosts, freedom – all are encapsulated in the constant morph between dreamscape and mundane that Savage weaves. On opener "The Ghost", she turns a lyric about toenails into one of the album’s most sickeningly emotional moments, then on closer "The Orange" she borrows the title of a Wendy Cope poem about finding joy and contentment in simplicity: “If this is all that there is, I think I’m gonna be fine.” At times, Savage’s metaphors feel a little jarring against the subtleties of the album. “Crown Shyness” and “Pavlov’s Dog” in particular take rich ideas (“I’m watching, I’m waiting, I’m salivating” a line already as visceral as they come with no need for the clarification “you can call me Pavlov’s Dog”) very literally where perhaps they would have struck more impactfully had Savage allowed us to draw the dotted line.

On first impression, in|FLUX is almost alienating, an unsettling listen that does all but invite you back for more. But with determination, passion, and survival instinct – the very feelings explored at such length – it yields excellence.

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