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Anya Marina: Sex and whimsy

Anya Marina: Soft-spoken poet.
Anya Marina: Soft-spoken poet.
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On the one hand, Anya Marina is the new Liz Phair. Her infectious guitar pop is coy and girly and frequently wallows in untamed sexual emotion. On the other hand, Marina, appearing Tuesday at the Annex with the Virgins and Lissy Trullie, is a soft-spoken poet who earned an English degree at a small Catholic college. She describes her music simply as melodic and whimsical.

If it's hard to pin down just who Anya Marina really is, maybe that's because the dichotomies themselves best define her. They seep into the essence of her music.

Take "Move You," the first single off Marina's new album, Slow & Steady Seduction, Phase II. The video opens with the artist on a bed in a skimpy dress, seemingly pondering her sexual destiny. A shirtless hunk sleeps next to her while she sings: "How I struggled in vain to solve this riddle with my brain / When the answer's in my hands / I'm going to move you around."

Off-camera, Marina says "Move You" is more than a bedroom anthem. She notes that the song was inspired by this quote from psychologist Carl Jung: "Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain."

"I love the idea that when you can't figure out something intellectually, going into your body and getting physical can help undo whatever knot you're grappling with," says Marina. She was first introduced to Jung's writings by her father, who is a psychology professor.

Marina has been making music since 2005, but her latest album is a bold and stark departure from the singer-songwriter influence that dominated her early work. This time out, catchy rock percussion is the centerpiece of most tracks. You can thank Spoon's Britt Daniel for that.

"I had gotten into this rut of writing in the same time signature," says Marina. "I would strum my guitar and write songs over that." Daniel sent Marina a set of rhythmic loops after she told him about her songwriting dry spell.

"Writing over percussion is a whole different context," she says.

After all, Marina wouldn't have it any one way.

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