The new Anjimile album explores themes of change, loss of innocence, and the trans experience, all the while blending sounds and genres, creating a piece that takes the listener on almost the same journey of confusion and self-discovery.

Who doesn’t love some emotional music?

Intimate, honest, deep-cutting—it’s relatable and attractive to listeners. It’s the motivation (and strategy) for many artists wishing to connect better with their audience. Kanye West’s recent album, Ye, or Sun Kil Moon’s Benji, or Sufjan Stevens’ Carrie and Lowell.

But Anjimile—Boston-based, 25-year-old queer and trans artist—opens themself up as a continuation rather than a strategy.

 

Like their previous albums Good Boy and Human Nature, Anjimile continues to sound like a cross between Woo and Wye Oak, but this time deals much more directly with up-close-and-personal life themes and events.

So it’s fitting they call their material “music for the soul.” The entirety of Colors seems to revolve around conscience and self changing—from growth to stress to trauma, Anjimile sacrifices being topical or political for being sincere in an almost romantic ode to the human spirit.

And the album’s themes closely mirror events occuring in Anjimile’s own life.

“The biggest influence on the [album’s] themes of change, loss and moving on has been me coming out as transgender and beginning testosterone hormone therapy,” they said in an interview. “I’ve been on [testosterone] for about 8 or 9 months now. It’s been incredibly affirming and wonderful and also really challenging and scary. A lot of the changes that come along with being on [testosterone] are irreversible. So there are many wins and just as many losses associated with this transition for me.”

Colors hits the ground running on its first track, “Ipswich,” an upbeat, warm song with dreamy and young love-inspired lyrics: “I think it’s time for a vacation / He’s too much to bear / Take me anywhere / Take me anywhere you please / I could see the three of us settling down sometime.”

“Ipswich,” along with many other songs on Colors, lulls the listener into concentration with calm, reserved, even somewhat simple instrumentation—and then layers on top lyrics with dark undertones, such as references to an abusive or manipulative family.

“It’s just what I do,” Anjimile said in regards to the lyrical/musical contrast. “I listened to a lot of Blink-182 growing up… a lot of ska music [and] a lot of punk music. I feel like ska and punk bands have a tendency to juxtapose intense lyricism with ‘bright’ or ‘upbeat’ instrumentation.”

And Anjimile avoids straying too long on a particular sound or topic; the second song, “Green,” is a spacey, laid-back departure from the previous song, dealing with themes of losing innocence; the sixth song, “Wakanda,” is an extended reference to the movie Black Panther; and, later on, “Sirens” seems to mimic the sound of a lullaby—and, coupled with its at times religious lyrics, it makes for yet another exciting change in Anjimile’s project.

The religious references “were intentional,” they later said. “I come from a deeply religious, conservative background and I’m inspired by biblical poetry and prose.”

But one of the main and boldest themes of the album is the queer and trans experience. Anjimile offers a moving and raw portrait of the devastating effects of dysphoria—in doing so, they portray doubt, self-loathing, and feelings of instability; “Dysphoria is running high / Spirits are running low / Do I know about my own body,” they repeat throughout the course of the song.

The diversity and inventiveness from song to song has created a beautiful amalgam that has, through its differences, made a concept album more concise and moving than many other artists attempting to do the same explicitly.

And how would they describe it without genre names?

“The ‘Rainbow Road’ level in Mario Kart.”

Rather than exhausting the obvious play on words between Colors and the theme of race, Anjimile uses the album’s title as a vehicle through which they chronicle and elaborate on different types of change. Physical, emotional, mental—the album uses “colors” almost as a reference to the experiences and travesties that decorate everybody’s pasts. Anjimile has here created yet another promising and touching (yet non-abrasively topical) autobiographical album that will undoubtedly serve as the groundwork for future, similar projects.

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