Eleven years is a long stretch between solo albums, but sometimes the world conspires to make working alone, more or less, the most prudent course. In the time since the generally well-regarded debut released under her first name, Anika Henderson has mostly occupied herself with collaborations, including within the experimental collective Exploded View. Opportunities knocked asunder by global health crisis, Henderson absconded to Germany with at least one Exploded View cohort in tow (Martin Thulin helped with production and played a few instruments) and emerged with an a sophomore solo outing entitled Change.
Perhaps understandably given all the everything going on outside the safe den of the studio when the album was made, Change sounds like art pop for the end of the world. Well, that description might be a tad overly dramatic. Maybe it’s simply art pop for the moment during an eclipse when all the light has been blocked out and, for just a moment, doubts arise as to whether the moon is going to continue its progress to move out of the way. As spare electronica murmurs on the title cut, Henderson intones “I think we can change, I think we can change” like a tentative mantra. Improvements can happen, if singing makes it so.
The album has a level of creative unity as solid as a pedestal. The music is enticing without sacrificing challenge. “Finger Pies” sounds like the result of Kim Gordon commandeering Sonic Youth and sculpting away the aggro noise leaving behind lithe zombie-dance tones, and “Naysayer” approaches the arch intensity of Anna Calvi. The soundscapes Henderson crafts are obviously intricately craft, but there’s also something about them that feels accidentally conjured. Whether the splendidly swervy “Rights” or the beautiful cracking-paint texture of “Wait for Something,” the material resonates with the aura of the inevitable.
If another eleven years pass before the name Anika graces an album cover, it will be all right. Change will shimmer like a soul that lingers, filling the space just fine in the interim.