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“Anoana” by Heilung

Experimentalism doesn’t have to mean indulgence, and if there’s anyone who wants us to know that entering this upcoming fall season, it’s Heilung. Heilung has been generating a lot of interest in their music over the past couple of months, and it’s largely to do with their attention to detail when they get into the studio – resulting in some very provocative listens for those who are pickier about their indie music. The latest of these releases, “Anoana,” is getting a lot of love on its own, and it doesn’t take much more than a cursory listen to understand what the fuss is all about.

The music video for “Anoana” is absolutely spellbinding, and it’s solely because of the surreal quality through which we’re able to understand the narrative in the lyrics. Heilung has been stirring the pot with postmodern themes for a minute, but this is a lot more aggressive than what I was initially expecting when I sat down to review this song. It’s as though they’re bound to the notion of thinking outside the box as much as they are actually giving us these verses in sequential order, which says a lot about their valuation of aesthetics.

“Anoana” has a rather cautionary atmosphere that can be a little ominous to listeners at first, but I think this moody introduction to the song was necessary for us to appreciate the warmth of the material as we press forward. So much of what Heilung tries to do with this piece revolves around exploiting duality, and yet there’s nothing here to suggest a split narrative nor multiple influences getting lost in translation. It’s surprisingly thoughtful and complete for how much is going on, and I would even say that a lot of this band’s peers could learn something from their approach to this track.

There isn’t a lot of lust in this beat, and yet there’s a sense of lurching behind us thanks to the percussion that essentially shapes the undertow of the song as much as any of the melodic instrumentation does, and it’s ironically one of my favorite parts of the track. While there’s no denying that this creates undue tension against the backdrop for Heilung, they know exactly what to do with that tension – which is a far cry from what the vast majority of solo players in this genre would have done in the exact same situation.

I’m quite fascinated by what I’ve been finding in the music of Heilung, and while I don’t think they’re anywhere near their peak I will say that they’ve reached a good center as a band that they need to run with as much as possible moving forward. Heilung’s “Anoana” explains where they’re going as an act, and for those of us who have been hoping a band could come around and throw a little spice into an otherwise predictable time for folk music, singer/songwriters, and indie pop in general, this is exactly what September had been missing more than anything else.

Mindy McCall

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