Anika’s self-titled debut found the 24-year-old steel-voiced singer sleepless, forecasting the end of the world and damning the military-industrial complex. It was as heavy as a howitzer and equally foreboding.
Not bad for a first act that effectively answered a question that no one had thought to ask: What would Nico sound like backed by Public Image Ltd., covering Yoko Ono, the Kinks, the Pretenders and Bob Dylan. The singer born Annika Henderson in Britain is backed by BEAK>, the post-punk funk band founded by Portishead principle Geoff Barrow, on her Stones Throw-released “Anika,” which was one of the most stark, bleak records of 2010.
If its operating room-gray overtones seemed intended to score an alternate cut of “The Hurt Locker,” consider it a reflection of Henderson’s inherent political angst. The artist was schooled as a journalist at Cardiff University in Wales, and she recorded the album during a dyspeptic stint between working for a music promoter in Bristol, England, and writing about education reform in Berlin.
Her out came when she received a vague invitation to perform with a band looking for a “weird singer.” She was unaware that said outfit was Barrow’s new project, and it wasn’t until her third session with BEAK> that she realized he was the sonic architect for one of the best bands of the '90s.