Anna Meredith – FIBS (3 stars)

Anna Meredith – FIBS

Composer and producer releases her follow-up to 2016 SAY Award-winning album Varmints

For all that she's a compositional expert of breathtaking ability, Anna Meredith remains trapped in the hinterland between her two natural constituencies at the moment. The North Queensferry-raised musician is beloved of classical audiences, although there's a certain perception from stuffier quarters that her popularity is a confected sop to the youngsters, while in the field of genuinely experimental pop music – which is what she makes – she's too approved of by the BBC Proms and laden with an MBE to be truly fashionable.

Not that Meredith ought to mind, because she's getting on with living her best musical life with a level of appreciation from all quarters. Whichever form her legacy takes – and she's a musician of such originality that a proper legacy would be deserved, rather than just fond remembrance of a couple of songs which people once liked – it will be her recordings which grant it to her. In which case FIBS, the follow-up to her 2016 Scottish Album of the Year Award-winning debut Varmints, indicates that playful experimenter may be the mantle which suits her best.

Throughout, Meredith appears to be having fun with new and often intriguing combinations of keys, instruments and genres. The addition of electric guitar is an element which her fans may not be used to, although 'Limpet', the song which relies on it most, is also the most conventional, with the air of an instrumental Manic Street Preachers B-side. The instrument is also used on 'Paramour', whose swirling electronic beats and deep blasts of tuba are at least far closer to Meredith's ballpark.

With electronica, she appears truly at home; on the opening 'Sawbones', orchestral and synthesised elements fusing so as to be indistinguishable, escalating like an over-excited Machinedrum soundscape; on 'Inhale Exhale', which takes the elegiac acid riff which is a signature of Underworld and converts it into a soaring piece of pop; and on 'moonmoons', 'Divining' and 'Unfurls', all different flavours of delicate ambient exploration. It's an album which blends the conventional and the unconventional, and while Meredith's talent glows when she's dropped in amid the latter, the former is unfriendly ground to one of her ability.

Out Fri 25 Oct via Moshi Moshi.

FIBS, by Anna Meredith

Anna Meredith

Described by Pitchfork as “one of the most innovative voices in British music” Anna Meredith is a genre-crossing composer and producer whose work straddles the worlds of contemporary classical, art pop, electronica and experimental rock. This is a +14 event.

Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen, Leeds

Mon 3 Feb 2020

£15 / 0113 224 2066

EartH, London N16

Wed 5 Feb 2020

£17.60

Gorilla, Manchester

Tue 4 Feb 2020

£16.50 / 0161 407 0301

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