Antony and the Johnsons 

The Crying Light

The latest album from this celebrated avant-soul crooner and his chamber-folk backing band examines humanity's increasingly complicated relationship with Planet Earth — which seems something of an inside joke when you consider that the word used perhaps most often to describe Antony's voice is "otherworldly."

There's precious little humor to be found elsewhere on The Crying Light; like its predecessors (which include 2005's Mercury Music Prize-winning I Am a Bird Now), this is sober, serious stuff about people dying and rivers drying up and what it would feel like never to see snow again.

But it's also heartbreakingly gorgeous, and if it's sometimes easy to miss the club-kid joie de vivre Antony brought to last year's brilliant Hercules and Love Affair album, well, that disc didn't have this one's lush Nico Muhly string arrangements. In fact, The Crying Light occasionally feels like a battle between Antony and the Johnsons over who can make the prettier sound, a contest the listener can't help but win. (Secretly Canadian)

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