Published Oct 23, 2019In 2016, Anna Meredith took a risk and devoted large amounts of time, money and energy into Varmints, her first solo studio album. It was a huge success, and Meredith garnered praise as a composer-turned-producer who could create genre-defying pop by mixing electronic, acoustic and orchestral arrangements.
Now three-and-a-half years later, Anna Meredith has gone through a transformation on FIBS, which puts aside the immensity of her previous work and settles for an eccentric compilation of songs that sound like reimagined and larger-than-life versions of 8-bit videogame soundtracks.
Although FIBS presents a plethora of odd and original songs, one thing stays the same: Anna Meredith always wants to keep listeners guessing, and you can never get too comfortable with a track sounding one way or another. "Calion," for example, begins with an ominous synth that sounds like it belongs on Stranger Things, before a techno kick and clap pick things up and create an electro dance rhythm. While this versatility is a definite strength on FIBS, it is also its weakness in some cases: The continually changing tempo on "Killjoy" makes the song feel hard to absorb, and "Bump" moves in so many directions that it feels ambivalent more than anything else.
Otherwise, FIBS is extremely textured, and is a pleasure to listen to because of how playful and unpredictable it can be. Those who go into this expecting more of the visceral and mind-bending productions that added to the novelty of Varmints might be disappointed, but listeners with no expectations are bound to be pleasantly surprised. (Black Prince Fury / Moshi Moshi)