Anna of the North – Lovers Review 

In 2014, we were introduced to Sway; a silky pop number that sizzled with twinkling synths and a winding forlorn bass. Fast forward to present day, and Anna of the North has resurrected her hype with debut LP Lovers, which – though Sway-less – glides with the same clouded Eighties musings and dreamy love life memoirs.
One thing this does all hint at is that no modifications have been made to their style. No risks have ever been taken, no real differences have ever been made. It makes Lovers a bit predictable, but undeniably good. Most tracks fall back onto vivid synths to complement the wistful vocals of Anna Lotterud. Baby is the track with the most history, being released last year, lifted by bursts of bass and subtle whispers of synths. Carrying on the tradition, opening track Moving On fully embraces the ricocheting bass and lyrics, hoisted by a vital synth riff during the chorus, while remaining easy and simple. Money glistens with a summery sheen, topped with a catchy chorus and pounding percussion. Feels’ poignancy derives from the drooping synth flourishes; for some reason, this little add-on is a real stand-out instrumental moment – it’s just so unlike anything else on the album.

Having said that, there are some tracks that stand out from the rest. Someone – already a fantastic track, with a courageous chorus and confident instrumentalism – is made all the better with a perfect key change. Fire is the greatest diversion from what the rest of the album presents, in that it tackles a more modern approach to pop – syncopated percussion, a bouncy bass, and a hushed build up before an anthemic chorus. The album’s closer All I Want, though rivalled with Friends, is the most exposed we’ve heard Anna, and the minimalistic instrumentalism – especially during the verses – work well in enhancing a sense of vulnerability.

One thing that ties the album together is the theme of love. It gives a very real portrayal of the subject, in that none of the tracks deliberate idealistic relationships, but actual raw emotions and struggles. Whether it’s the collapsing of a relationship, like in Friends or Fire, or the craving of attention on Someone or Money, each song is connected by this bold representation of love. And as each track fades and bleeds into the next, seamlessly joining mismatched tempos and auras, the album embodies the quick and meandering changes of relationships. It’s a truly clever technique that sets apart so many modern ‘pop’ albums, in that it displays a clear and honest narrative.

However, the album seems to separate itself into two. The first half of the ten-piece tracklist is much more creative than the second, which focusses on the more simplistic and dreary numbers, briefly picked up by Fire, only for the album to come to a muted close one song later. The second half is good and still demonstrates huge talent, it’s just nowhere near as captivating as the first.

Anna of the North’s Lovers is the pinnacle of easy-listening pop, with an ambience that combines freshness, nostalgia, heartache and love all into one smooth album. It can be a bit repetitive, a bit boring and a bit predictable, but it’s definitely an accomplished debut.

Anna of the North – Lovers: 6/10

Eleanor Chivers

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