Antony & the Johnsons - Thank You For Your Love

Rhian Daly 02/09/2010

Rating: 4/5

The so-called curse of the Mercury Music Prize may have befallen many a victorious act in the past but Antony & the Johnsons are not one of them. The unexpected winner in 2005, Antony Hegarty and co received plaudits from across the board for their second album I Am A Bird Now and its ability to shatter hearts and reduce grown men to tears at ten paces. Four years followed until a new record, the much overlooked The Crying Light, and a yet another to the point where we now stand, awaiting fourth album Swanlights and temporarily satiating our thirsts with new EP 'Thank You For Your Love'.

Still armed with all the power to make hairs on arms stand on end and tear ducts work themselves dry, 'Thank You For Your Love' continues Hegarty's legacy as one of modern music's most consistent and heartbreaking composers - even when he's celebrating a partner on the title track, the tender arrangements coupled with the heartfelt vocals make it nigh on impossible to hold back the tears.

Apart from the inherent inability to put a smile on listeners' faces, 'Thank You For Your Love' is a magnificent accomplishment of beauty and grace. 'You Are The Treasure''s solo, repetitive piano accompaniment shines the spotlight on Hegarty's lyrics and voice, here echoing endlessly with the urgency of someone bursting to declare their love for someone. 'My Lord My Love' is classic Antony - poetic and light, spinning a narrative that draws you in and gets into your head to the point where it's difficult to separate the events in the song from those in your own life and 'Pressing On' is simplistic in its approach but still manages to hit all the right buttons.

The song that will spark the most interest with the largest number of people, though, is a cover of the John Lennon classic 'Imagine'. It would be misguided to slate Hegarty for even thinking of covering the late Lennon, as that would consequently mean having to take almost every musician in the world to task as well. And whilst Antony & the Johnsons' take on the song is anything but dire, there's something about it that doesn't quite sit right. Perhaps it's because the original is so overfamiliar that anything slightly different feels a bit askew. It's not a faithful rendtion, keeping every tiny detail the same - there's a move to put their own take it - which is certainly more welcome than a karaoke version but it's almost as if 'Imagine' shouldn't be touched, even in this way.

The end of 'Thank You For Your Love' might be a little tainted by the spectre of John Lennon but, for the most part, this new EP sees Antony & the Johnsons continuing on as they have always done - boldly and beautifully, and keeping Kleenex from going out of business.

Release date: out now