[sic] Magazine

Pixx – The Age Of Anxiety

There are two sides to Pixx, the 21 year-old BRIT Schoool graduate from Surrey. On the one hand Hannah Rodgers – whose adopted stagename is taken from her grandmother’s nickname – makes smart, modern electro-pop and on the other big, wistful synth ballads. Arguably there’s a third as well if you count her more folk-infused debut EP too. In any case, The Age Of Anxiety is certainly greater in scope than that first collection of tracks and in being so it confirms her as an artist of real vision and interest, but so too one also still currently struggling with consistency and, perhaps more importantly, identity. This becomes literally true when you learn the album borrows its title from a 1947 W.H. Auden poem in which a man finds it difficult to find his place in a changing world and how Pixx was also influenced during The Age Of Anxiety’s creation by the pressures of social media, political turbulence and how that translated into very real night terrors for her.

As an artist this all enables her to tune into the type of sharp, left-field pop beloved by the likes of tUnE-yArDs, Micachu and Grimes, even a little too closely in places such as on “Waterslides”, a bubbly and sweet track that recounts a terrifying nightmare of hers of being trapped in a waterpark surrounded by faceless figures dressed in business suits. Sadly it comes off like an Art Angels off-cut deemed surplus to requirements for lacking sufficient depth. Further along the negative scale are the album’s disappointing final 10-15 minutes, nothingy synth-pop statements almost, but not quite, saved by the dominating chorus on “The Girls”, a creaky, sea-sick stream of wanting to be able to “dance like the rest of the girls” that grows on you as it fades out. Pixx is on much stronger footing throughout when she dares to get weird like this. Her deployment of deep buzzes that undercut the chirruping FX, stuttering drum machine rips that bring Purity Ring to mind and digitally manipulated vocal loops are thus alluring to the ear.

It’s when she digs deeper into her bags of tricks for her oscillators that Pixx really comes into her own however. Detailing one of the her first memories, “A Big Cloud To Float Upon” is consequently a surprisingly punchy blast, destructive percussion – thunderclaps in a nebulous dream – doing the damage in between pillowy bridges. Oscillators in overdrive, “I Bow Down” is even better, a bout of outright kraut-fired synth-pop with crunchy guitar tones and a curiously husky vocal performance, the sort of thing you might imagine Anika doing back as a solo artist when she unentangles herself from Exploded View. Pixx is still an artist finding herself and she knows that. Being invited to be a part of her evolution feels intimate rather than voyeuristic though, a privilege even if every step doesn’t go to plan.

Best track: “I Bow Down”

~The Age Of Anxiety is released June 2nd 2017.~