Once upon a time, pop stars tore up pictures of the pope and cursed out the Queen on television. Most days, that era seems long dead. We live in a landscape where being on-brand trumps truth. The end result is that mundanity wins. Annabel Jones is looking for the antidote.
"You can't keep putting out meaningless noise and expect culture to grow or evolve," Jones says. "You can't refuse to put yourself out there and say what you think or feel because you won't get that Steve Madden shoe collaboration or a perfume at Macy's."
When you listen to Jones' debut release, "Magnetic" (2015), this unique vision becomes crystalline. Her voice is a levitating marvel, the sort of thing that makes the hairs on your arm stand stiff as bayonets. The beat is a twinkling kaleidoscopic synthesizer riff, minimal but memorable – a stark contrast to the maximalist bludgeoning of sterile pop. It's infectious but cerebral—a reminder that pop music is merely what's popular — not a narrow axis of lyrical content and production excess.
This is sad dance music with a strong storytelling and narratives. Its most direct comparisons are Imogen Heap, Robyn, or Regina Spektor, but Jones has a singular aesthetic and ideas that defy easy contrast. If you judged solely off melody, "Magnetic" could seem like just another catchy pop song. But, its lyrics weave a harrowing tale of addiction, and a loss of self.
It's safe to say that Jones grew up around music. During her teens and early twenties she fronted a band, Lady and the Lost Boys. They toured widely and won widespread praise for their piano-pop sound. After the band dissolved, Jones's focus turned to her solo material which The Guardian described as "polished and perfect".
Spurred on by the immense support she received from influential music blogs and a loyal fanbase, Jones continued to hone her craft and evolve. On its release, "Magnetic" earned praise for its striking sound and Jones's haunting vocals. The song spawned several remixes, most notably by AOBeats, which shot straight to number one on HypeMachine. To date, the song's SoundCloud and YouTube plays total over three million.
"Magnetic" also caught the attention of American electronic artist and DJ Jimmy Tamborello (The Postal Service/Dntel) who subsequently co-produced Jones's EP alongside Andrew Goldstein (Robert DeLong, Krewella, and Andrew McMahon).
This forthcoming EP, "Libelle", marks Annabel's debut for Crooked Paintings/Atlantic Records. History's best pop songs are written with an honesty that allows listeners to recognize themselves in the music. These reflect a similarly indelible nature: true stories written from experience that embed themselves in mind and marrow.
"It feels like many pop stars have forgotten they carry responsibility," Jones says. "I don't want to make someone feel empty. I want them to feel full of meaning."