“I wish that I could dance like the rest of the girls,” frets Hannah Rodgers on the spidery ‘The Girls’.
This self-consciousness isn’t what poet W. H. Auden had in mind when he wrote ‘The Age of Anxiety’, the title of which Rodgers has appropriated for her debut album as Pixx, but it does appositely fit with her lyrical themes of insomnia-induced disquiet.
It would be easy for these dark, occasionally new age-y concerns to conform to introspective singer-songwriter clichés but the Brit School graduate has instead contrasted them with the ethereal electronica of the late 80s and mid-90s.
The most immediate reference point for her sweetly disturbing electro-pop is Polly Scattergood, with whom she shares a sense of English gothic and art school aesthetic. Appearing in a Victorian-style corset blouse, while her three-piece band have smears of glitter under their eyes, she has a commanding presence despite her muted audience interaction.
She also has the vocals to support her style, being deep and urgent on the churning rhythms of ‘I Bow Down’, conversational on the otherworldly goblin ‘la la la’ loops of ‘Grip’, and insistent on shimmering former single ‘Waterslides’.
These tracks mark a confident step forward from her 2015 Fall In EP, which was rooted in folktronica. There are also signs that her sound will continue to evolve, with ‘Romance’ having the heavier beats and programming of U. S. Girls. The styles nonetheless remain united by a focus on twitchy, nervous electro-pop that acts as a mirror to these anxious times.