Apart from an unlikely appearance on New York disco outfit Hercules & Love Affair's album, it's all been very quiet for Antony Hegarty and his bunch of Johnsons. Had the dreaded curse of the Mercury Music Prize struck again?
Four years on, we may still be waiting for a follow-up to I Am A Bird Now, but in the meantime the Another World EP makes for a decent stop-gap. The title track is a predictably gorgeous slice of piano-based melancholy, the fragile chords making a perfect backdrop for Antony's extraordinary voice, positively dripping with sadness. Admittedly the lyrics, with a list of things that Antony is going to miss (the sea, the sun, the snow) and wanting "another world" where there's peace, sounds disturbingly like a suicide note, but it's a rather beautiful way to go.
Crackagen is similarly down-tempo, another 'voice and piano' ballad, but it doesn't grab the attention as much as the opening track. Shake That Devil, by contrast, is utterly barking, consisting of Antony intoning "that dog had his way with me" before a screaming saxophone kicks in, paving the way for several slightly frightening minutes of industrial jazz. It's unsettling, but rather brilliant.
Sing For Me returns us to familiar Hegarty territory, while Hope Mountain closes the EP in heart-stoppingly beautiful fashion, a string section and Antony's mutli-tracked backing vocals transporting the listener to...wait for it..another world.
Maybe not an essential purchase, but if you're already counting the days down until the official third album The Crying Light is released in January, this should more than satisfy you.