Take a ride with me…
There’s a definite pleasure in coming across new music that offers up a grittier approach that’s both familiar and also surprising. Take the ‘Surf Horror’ appeal of ‘Monoxide’, which apparently took inspiration from night-stalking serial killers, Tarantino’s Death Proof and the unapologetic confidence of the artist responsible – A.N.J.A.
There’s a stylish garage rock vibe to A.N.J.A.’s music within its noir trappings. Previously, A.N.J.A. (aka Anja Romer) pitched up in Belfast after moving to the UK from Germany. Her music pulls from a dark well of inspiration that includes Queens of the Stone Age, Masters of Reality, The Velvet Underground, Iggy and the Stooges and PJ Harvey. Much of A.N.J.A.’s approach calls to mind the B-movie aesthetic of acts such as The Pink Diamond Revue, oozing a raw surf guitar sound that’s the essence of cool.
A.N.J.A.’s brooding style is evidenced on the bass-heavy goodness of ‘Men Will Die Tonight’, a single released during the height of the 2020 pandemic. A torch song drawn from death row, its languid delivery and 60s guitar fills have a hypnotic draw that’s tough to ignore.
Meanwhile, latest release ‘Monoxide’ sees Romer delving into still-darker recesses. The chief idea behind the composition was born out of her anger over the helplessness of a majority of female victims in homicide cases. Yet the song plays around with the switching of roles and embraces ideas of empowerment. “You can read the lyrics to ‘Monoxide’ two ways” comments Romer, “On the one hand, there is this mysterious abductor on the lookout for her next victim. On the other hand, it’s a song about fun, seduction and a sweet escape.”
The throbbing guitar drives the whole affair along, while the chugging percussion serves up a raw, spiky vibe. On top of that, Romer’s vocal delivery has a siren-like attraction which gives the lyrics a suitably beguiling quality (“You can run but you can’t hide/When you’re out in the night”). ‘Monoxide’ offers high-octane thrills down dark desert highways and deserves to be played loud.
An EP, Digital Love Spells, also emerged in August 2020 which drew praise and airplay, with Chordblossom declaring A.N.J.A. as “Belfast’s answer to Stevie Nicks”. There’s a sultry quality to Romer’s vocals that seems to fit perfectly with the dirty surf rock licks of her music. At times, suggesting a soundtrack from some lost David Lynch film, compositions such as ‘Monoxide’ have an uneasy familiarity to them. If you’re drawn to dark, unsettling roadscapes carved out of the American wilderness, then A.N.J.A. will be your designated driver for the journey.
‘Monoxide’ is out now: https://anjamusic.bandcamp.com/track/monoxide