Erika M. Anderson can always be counted on to be painfully honest and direct. She's opened one of her most well-known tunes with the line, "Fuck California / You made me boring," and she slathers her material with noise-drenched, visceral soundscapes and searing lyricism. The emotional, heart-on-sleeve approach suits her well, and it's one that she uses to great effect on new album Exile in the Outer Ring.
This raw, confessional style is especially perfect given Anderson's attempt to convey the rage and resentment experienced by middle-class America: "I want to explain to outsiders that the people where I come from aren't beyond hope and reason," says EMA in a press release, "and I want to show those people there's another way — I want this record to bridge a divide."
There's a lot of anger on Exile in the Outer Ring. It's in your face in the repeated titular refrain on "I Wanna Destroy" and in the frenzied, claustrophobic vocal stylings on "33 Nihilistic and Female." Her arrangements are dense and noisy, but they find beauty in her anger, and the anger of everyone who shares her emotions.
This is a modus operandi that's worked for Anderson her entire solo career, and it's one that works here, too. Her 2011 release Past Life Martyred Saints turned heads with her raw, confessional songwriting, and six years and a new presidential administration later, she's able to use her ability to go for the jugular in new, compelling ways. Anderson wants to not only convey resentment, but a desire to heal, to move on, to grow.
Some of the more ambitious tracks, like "Always Bleeds" and "Breathalyzer" show an already-confident songwriter only getting better. Her ability to turn raw emotion into compelling and riveting music carries Exile in the Outer Ring, and the result is some of the best material we've heard from her yet. (City Slang)