Phew, the legendary Japanese musician and vocalist, has returned with a brand new album titled “Our Likeness”. The album, which was released in 2021, marks Phew’s first full-length solo release in nearly a decade. It is a stunning work of art that showcases Phew’s unique voice and musical sensibilities.
Phew first came to prominence in the late 1970s as a member of the punk rock band Aunt Sally. She quickly gained a reputation for her powerful vocals and uncompromising attitude. In the decades since, she has collaborated with some of the most influential musicians in the world, including members of Can, Einstürzende Neubauten, and DAF.
“Our Likeness” is a departure from Phew’s earlier work in many ways. While her previous albums were often marked by harsh noise and experimental soundscapes, “Our Likeness” is a more subdued and contemplative work. The album is composed of nine tracks, each of which explores a different facet of Phew’s musical personality.
The opening track, “Pillow” sets the tone for the album. It is a gentle, meditative piece that features Phew’s voice hovering over a bed of synths and piano. The lyrics are poetic and abstract, hinting at themes of loneliness and loss.
The second track, “The Very Ears of Morning”, is a more upbeat affair. It features a driving bassline and propulsive drums that push Phew’s vocals to the forefront. The lyrics are more direct and political, addressing issues of social justice and inequality.
Other standout tracks on the album include “Sonic Morning”, a haunting piece that features Phew’s voice layered over a bed of shimmering guitars and electronics, and “The World Spins”, a slow-burning ballad that builds to a cathartic climax.
Throughout the album, Phew’s voice is the star of the show. Her vocals are often processed and distorted, but they remain deeply emotional and expressive. She has a gift for conveying complex emotions with just a few words, and her lyrics are often ambiguous and open to interpretation.
“Our Likeness” is a deeply personal album that feels like a reflection of Phew’s innermost thoughts and feelings. It is a testament to her artistry and creativity, and it stands as one of the most powerful and affecting albums of her career.
One of the things that sets “Our Likeness” apart from Phew’s earlier work is the production. The album was produced by Jim O’Rourke, a musician and producer who is known for his work with Sonic Youth, Wilco, and Stereolab, among others. O’Rourke’s touch is subtle but effective, and he brings out the best in Phew’s voice and musical ideas.
The instrumentation on the album is also noteworthy. While Phew’s earlier work often featured abrasive noise and unconventional instrumentation, “Our Likeness” is more traditional in its approach. The album features guitars, bass, drums, and keyboards, as well as a few electronic touches. The musicianship is top-notch throughout, and the arrangements are both tasteful and inventive.
In conclusion, “Our Likeness” is a stunning achievement from Phew, a musician who has been pushing the boundaries of music for over four decades. It is a deeply personal and affecting album that showcases her unique voice and musical vision. Fans of experimental music, post-punk, and avant-garde music will find much to admire here. But even listeners who are new to Phew’s work will find much to love in this beautiful and powerful album. “Our Likeness” is a testament to the enduring power of music, and it is not to be missed.