Hanna-Maria Lifländer knows her way around a piano. The Helsinki-based artist has released two full-length albums and one EP on which all the songs consist almost entirely of her voice and her favorite naturally reverberant, key-decorated instrument. “Anonymice Anonymous,” the second track from Lifländer’s most recent album, Souvenirs from the Void, is among the most distilled versions of her take on piano-based, gloomy rock music, a song that loses no power removed from the context of the concept album that houses it.
Throughout “Anonymice Anonymous,” Lifländer deftly balances two physical challenges: singing in a voice that can shift from a mezzo-soprano to a nasal falsetto in what feels like a millisecond, and having control of a classical piano’s entire range of octaves. The notes that introduce “Anonymice Anonymous” are certainly those that a pianist would play with her left hand, but it doesn’t take long for Lifländer’s right hand to add some higher-pitched notes that decorate her music with the baroque and cabaret influences she unabashedly claims in her songwriting. By the time the song’s chorus arrives, the ominous, low-crooning piano notes that first heralded “Anonymice Anonymous” have taken on the role of background clatter, sounds that pave a path rather than walk on one.
Also accompanying the chorus is an illusion of acceleration. As Lifländer sings “Dark clouds are gathering upon my head,” “Anonymice Anonymous” sounds as though it’s picking up slightly in pace, even though Lifländer hasn’t at all changed the song’s tempo. Her command of drama is so strong that even in situations as minimal as the ones she tends to craft for herself, she can make almost anything happen. “Don’t discount me,” she sings, “One day, you’ll be fighting for my number.” With this many tricks up her sleeve and keys at her hands, it’s no wonder she’s so confident.