As a solo artist, one of the founders of the mighty Hen Hoose collective and the folky pop band 6 Day Riot, Tamara Schlesinger has been responsible for some massive moments in music. ‘On The Up’, her joyous collab with the equally brilliant Amunda, was one of the highlights of last year. On her first solo album in three years she’s taken that pop-propelled power and thrown herself at it in full, with a searing emotional honesty that drags us along for the ride.
With Schlesinger playing every note on the album herself, self-recording and self-producing, Anatomy of Sight is a deeply personal piece of work. Opening track ‘Matriarch’ plunges straight into the meat of the matter, with lyrics about the drive and grind and claustrophobia of locked-down parenting over squelchy, glistening disco; seeing the pride in something pop music often looks on as diminishing. Drawing on her experiences with long Covid on the trio of ‘Flashlight’, ‘Detachment’ and ‘Slipping Away’, she delves into the mental slippage and loss of self, and the people who pull us out of the dark.
Not that it’s all the internal world – her rage against the frustrations of living in a world run by narcissists and oligarchs is palpable; the Kraftwerk-inflected ‘You Own Us’ or the wonky electroclash swish of ‘What You Get Out’ directing a powerful, sarcastic scream at those who ‘oil the cogs of all the broke machines’.
All this introspection and anger is tempered by Schlesinger’s music. Whirling and bleeping 70s synths and crashing techno drums; the righteous joy of taking the torment of the world and pounding it out on the dance floor that drove the disco greats like Sylvester and Cowley. Seeing the struggle, the unfairness, the gross indignity inflicted by idiocy and pushing it away. This is an album that looks at all that and resolves to fight back with our heads held high, looking fantastic.
Anatomy Of Sight is out 29th September via Tantrum Records. Buy here.