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Baker's Dozen

Strength In Strangeness: The Anchoress' Favourite Albums
Elizabeth Aubrey , May 17th, 2023 09:12

Ahead of a show this Saturday at London's Southbank Centre, Catherine Anne Davies takes us through the 13 albums that have defined her life and work as The Anchoress, from childhood memories soundtracked by The Carpenters and lifechanging encounters with the Manics and PJ Harvey as a teen, to newfound infatuations with SZA and The 1975,


The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It

When pregnant, I suffered from a placental abruption and ended up having to have emergency surgery. I was rushed to hospital and all I had was my phone and my headphones. I was there in the hospital, on the table while they were working on me andwhen one of the nurses asked me if I needed anything I asked one of the nurses to put the Manics on for me. I asked for Generation Terrorists from my phone because that album has always felt like armour to me. During this terrible, frightening moment, that’s what I needed to hear but instead the nurse accidentally put on The 1975's I Like It When You Sleep…, which ultimately was the soundtrack to me being anaesthetised, sliced open and my daughter being born. It wasn’t what I expected!

Adrenaline was rushing through my body and I was shaking uncontrollably not knowing if I was going to survive, nor if my as-yet unborn daughter would make it through. I was just mouthing the words of the songs over-and-over, almost like a mantra so I could stay focussed on anything but what was happening to me in the room. It was already an important record to me; they were the first band since the Manics that I became quite obsessed with. I felt like I could believe in them and I say this now as someone who, presently, feels deeply ambivalent about Matty Healy and how he's recently revealed himself to be a very problematic person. But lyrically, visually, in terms of their creativity, this album was already phenomenal. But it took on a whole different meaning to me because it became the soundtrack to my daughter being born – I think literally on ‘She's American’. There's not many records from recent years where I know every word, but playing this on repeat in the hours after she was born and in the subsequent days elevated this from being an already quite important record in my collection to one that I now attach a very significant meaning to. However much of a dickhead he may be and is, he is a phenomenal lyricist. I love the way he crowbars in references to philosophy and cultural anthropology. He’s one of the best – if not the best – lyricists of the last twenty years.