EMA – The Future’s Void

Erika M Anderson unleashed one of 2011’s most surprising breakthroughs with Past Life Martyred Saints. Recording as EMA, the South Dakota native lightened the overt druggieness of her early work in the duo Gowns, yet continued to deliver gauzy dirges that betrayed plenty of demons and an eerily dark soul. Then on the road Anderson professed a love of hip hop, began covering the Violent Femmes, and it became clear there was more to the story.

The Future’s Void delivers on that foreshadowing – more approachable without sounding slick, its stylistic variations are rooted in pop culture. Several tracks – such as the noisy and immediate opener “Satellites” – are beat-heavy, and Anderson screams like a young Karen O atop a melodic acoustic strum on “So Blonde.” She rounds out a great and far-flung opening trifecta with “3Jane,” a captivating ballad I could imagine Rihanna tackling on a mixtape in a grab for indie cred. “There ought to be a law about it/Where they can’t take videos of you,” Anderson croons in heartfelt tones, an apparent reference to the overheated online attention she received following Martyred Saints.

The Future’s Void stabilizes a bit after this salvo, gravitating toward EMA’s signature sound albeit with more prominent electronic washes. But that doesn’t mean she’s done with grand statements: the urgent “Solace” is the album’s most club-ready track, and “When She Comes” rides that can’t-miss Lou Reed-by-way-of Pixies vibe. And she again ruminates on invasion of privacy – this time more sardonically – on the organ-driven closer “Dead Celebrity,” which plays like a military procession.

Anderson has a problem. If she was unnerved by the public scrutiny that followed Past Life Martyred Saints I hope she’s developed a thicker skin, because the uncompromising yet more inviting The Future’s Void will only up the ante.

The Future’s Void