Red Ant

Angelique might be Goth’s answer to Sheryl Crow, if Present were a genre work. Rather, this startling debut is a well-toned body of dreamy rock incorporating elements of industrial dance, electronica, and hip hop. Likewise, Angelique’s expressive songwriting is never handcuffed to despair and blame. Even when exposing dark corners of her experience — the senseless murder of a friend (“Sleep All Day”) or emotional alienation (“What Love Is”) — these songs provide a fresh perspective and spiritual bent on the myths and legends of life issues without indulgence in heavy handed metaphor.

“Number” starts the record of in an aggro-industrial groove, not unlike the recent work of Curve. The murky “Holy Waters” builds in visceral impact on the turn of phrase (“To thrive/ on your indifference/ I must endure/ and twist the knife/ into butterflies”). Ballads like “Ruby,” punctuated with programming that emulates baroque strings, and “Losing Your Way” — reflecting on the happy accident of synchronicity — showcase layered harmonies and Angelique’s Pat Methenyesque guitar work. Reverberated steel guitar anchors the emotional current of “James a Junkie,” one of the most powerfully cathartic examinations of addiction since Cindy Lee Berryhill’s “Steve On H,” and electronic bossa nova beats turn “I Wish I Could Go to Paris” into Present‘s own “Girl From Ipanema.” Present stands as one of the year’s truly phenomenal debuts, and foreshadows great things to come from this artist. Red Ant Records, 904 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, CA 90069

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