Album: Antony & The Johnsons

I Am a Bird Now, ROUGH TRADE
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The Independent Culture

Antony Hegarty is certainly an individual talent, one currently drawing praise from fellow denizens of the New York scene such as Lou Reed, Rufus Wainwright, Boy George and Laurie Anderson - the first three of whom also guest on this second album. But it's debatable, on the evidence of I Am a Bird Now, whether he'll find enduring success, or end up an overlooked cult oddity such as Jobriath. The androgynous Antony's USP - a tremulous tenor that recalls native Polynesian and Hawaiian singing, as well as such similarly oddball vocalists as Yma Sumac, Little Jimmy Scott and Devendra Banhart (who also guests) - may ultimately turn out to be his millstone, as even the 35 minutes of these 10 songs stretches his appeal almost to breaking-point. Like his chum Rufus, Antony is best taken in small doses. He is backed here mostly by piano and swooning strings on songs that flit around issues of gender uncertainty - "Man is the Baby", "You are My Sister" (a duet with Boy George), and most bluntly, "For Tod

Antony Hegarty is certainly an individual talent, one currently drawing praise from fellow denizens of the New York scene such as Lou Reed, Rufus Wainwright, Boy George and Laurie Anderson - the first three of whom also guest on this second album. But it's debatable, on the evidence of I Am a Bird Now, whether he'll find enduring success, or end up an overlooked cult oddity such as Jobriath. The androgynous Antony's USP - a tremulous tenor that recalls native Polynesian and Hawaiian singing, as well as such similarly oddball vocalists as Yma Sumac, Little Jimmy Scott and Devendra Banhart (who also guests) - may ultimately turn out to be his millstone, as even the 35 minutes of these 10 songs stretches his appeal almost to breaking-point. Like his chum Rufus, Antony is best taken in small doses. He is backed here mostly by piano and swooning strings on songs that flit around issues of gender uncertainty - "Man is the Baby", "You are My Sister" (a duet with Boy George), and most bluntly, "For Today I am a Boy" - and gnaw away at his trans-gender desires. But intriguing as it is for the first few tracks, the novelty of Antony's voice - not to mention his psychopathology - fades as his delivery becomes increasingly overwrought.

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