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When the whole world collapses around you, sometimes the only thing you can do is stomp it all loose. Erin Anne's second album, the gleaming, electrified Do Your Worst, charts that uninhibited romp through disaster. Written amid the rubble of personal grief and professional disappointment, later exacerbated by the devastation of a global pandemic, the record deepens Erin's venture into the blur between human and machine, adding a new roster of digital instruments to the mix. Drawing on dark, glossy '80s synthpop as well as the unabashed bombast of bands like The Killers, the L.A.-based songwriter deploys a cyborg persona to articulate a feeling of displacement from the world as a queer artist struggling to survive the machinations of late capitalism. With bright, interweaving synthesizers and ripples of Auto-Tuned vocals, Do Your Worst poses a dare to the world: Whatever you have in store, I'll take it standing.
Erin began writing her second album not long after adding a MIDI keyboard and vocal processing hardware to her home studio setup. While exploring her new gear, she found that she could work in the same vein as the artists and producers she loved the most. Do Your Worst takes inspiration from the music of Patrick Cowley, the disco and hi-NRG producer best known for working alongside Sylvester. Erin was taken by Cowley's use of vocoder on the 1982 album Mind Warp, where his distorted vocals create a queer, mutant subjectivity. That album rang out against the cataclysm of the AIDS epidemic; Erin found resonance in Cowley's music during the present-day pandemic. "I have found the most catharsis and the most safety in listening to the music of people in really, really horrific circumstances making something lasting and profoundly beautiful," she says.
Throughout Do Your Worst, which was mixed by Sarah Tudzin of Illuminati Hotties, songs like "Typhoid Mary" and "Florida" reckon with loss, despair, and abjection. "This Hungry Body" sears through pandemic-era touch starvation, while "Mirror Mirror" attends to the noxious but necessary funhouse of social media. On the playful, guitar-driven “Eve Polastri’s Last Two Brain Cells Have a Debate,” Erin uses the spy thriller TV show Killing Eve to explore queer codependency and masochism. Among these fraught subjects, Erin Anne finds opportunities for release. She stages internal conflict on a scale so massive that its details start to become clear; if they don't resolve, they at least become palpable.
"I’m very much a maximalist when it comes to production. I like vast landscapes. I like a stratosphere and a core -- I want the bass to be beneath the floor," Erin says. "This record is, in a lot of ways, a collection of some of the first moments that I was technologically able to achieve accurate renderings of how I hear my own emotional world."
1. Monday Feeling
2. Loose Cannon Club
3. Eve Polastri's Last Two Brain Cells Have A Debate
4. Naked Minimum
5. Mirror Mirror
6. Do Your Worst
7. Echo Park Vampire
9. This Hungry Body
11. Typhoid Mary