“I never dreamed the video I made on my phone in my basement would premiere on VOGUE!!!”, Annie Hart, of Au Revoir Simone, posted on her Facebook about her video for her first single as a solo artist, “Hard to Be Still.” It’s hard to imagine a more auspicious beginning for her newest creative venture.
To be clear, Au Revoir Simone has not broken up (in fact, they recently appeared on the revival of Twin Peaks) – they are merely on a “long, pregnant pause” as Hart reassures us in the Vogue article. But that pause has given Hart a chance to experiment with music and the magical effects of sound on her own terms. “Be it melancholy, longing, happiness or simple desire, there is no better way to explain my innermost world than by going past words and into the intuitive and visceral feeling that a particular sound can evoke,” she says.
“Hard to Be Still” embodies all of those feelings she speaks of – it’s at once bright and shimmering, evocative of the most euphoric summer day, but also somehow leaks traces of palpable melancholy, carving away at a burning but indiscernible ache. “You gave me what I want, you gave me what I want, I got nothing left to ask for,” she sings, with longing that’s spilling over from being bottled up for so long.
“Hard to Be Still” is one of those enviably apt titles that encapsulates meaning so perfectly. It applies directly to Annie Hart’s solo-dom and her eagerness to keep making music with or without her band, but also more broadly to that keen awareness of life and how fast it goes by, and the inherent sadness and boundless excitement inherent in that.
The overall sound isn’t entirely different from Au Revoir Simone – still synth-heavy and melodic, but rawer, stripped down, distinctly solo, distinctly Hart’s own. She recorded “Hard to Be Still” in her own basement in Brooklyn, often while her children were sleeping. The resulting music reflects the secretive environment of its creation — and I don’t mean the basement, but those interior enclaves of Hart’s mind she finally had the chance to visit.
Annie Hart’s debut album, Impossible Accomplice, is due September 15th from Instant Records. You can pre-order on Bandcamp.