by Rachel Saywitz
2018 in Boston hasn’t exactly started out so well – the past few months have been filled with unexpected blizzards and rainstorms, not to mention the lack of a Patriots parade down Mass Ave. for the first time in a while. In these dreary times, I find that it’s always a good idea to pair a moody day with a moody album, and singer-songwriter Anna Burch’s debut LP Quit the Curse achieves that feeling and more.
The record tells tales of heartbreak and loneliness, anxiety and regret, all with Burch’s sweet, unassuming voice, straightforward lyrics, and pop sensibility. “I’ll still be okay when you walk my way publically,” she drawls in a monotonous tone on the first track, ‘2 Cool 2 Care,’ “But when I get home, I can’t be alone, can’t you see?” The song structure is simple; the lyrics aren’t filled with complex metaphors and perfect rhymes, and yet emotion can be felt throughout the track simply because there seems to be a lack of it. Burch seems bored even as she sings about her struggles of dealing with an indifferent lover, which makes the story of the song jump out more, dragging you into her love troubles.
Many tracks continue in the same vein of easy-going but weirdly depressing pop, like ‘Tea-Soaked Letter’ and ‘Quit the Curse,’ the latter song really bringing out a 1960s-esque girly-pop vibe. The last minute of ‘Quit the Curse’ helps to end it with a dramatic flair by adding to Burch’s voice, creating this harmonic trio reminiscent of doo-wop, mellow but still with a hint of sadness: “And you gave up the first time / And you thought you read my mind / And you thought I cared more than you did.” The song ‘What I Want’ also takes the same approach, with Burch’s voice doubling on the refrains and choruses of a song about trying to be okay with an ex-lover moving on. “I won’t play the victim just because I can’t get what I want,” she croons, though the endless repetition of that one line near the end of the song seems to suggest Burch might be doing the opposite.
Other songs show more active expressions of anger and aggression towards an ex-lover, such as ‘Asking 4 a Friend,’ where Burch sings in a high register over pounding guitar chords – “I think its suspect you ever feel lonely at all / You’re faking / You’re faking the fall.” One of the highlights of the record, ‘In Your Dreams’ contains a number of small but significant melodic interludes either in the form of nonsensical “doos” or slow guitar solos, as Burch sings about a regrettable love in a somewhat patronizing tone.
With every song focused on the deadpan singing of Burch, the record can tend to get a little bored of its own self. ‘Belle Isle’ takes more of a ballad-country approach, with a sweet story about finding an old lover in a new city, but the music itself feels slightly uninspired, and the lyrical meaning tends to get a bit lost. By the end of the record, I began wishing for some more variety in melodies or even other voices besides Burch’s own.
Despite the fact that the tracks on this record are very similar, almost too similar, to one another, they do create a cohesive body of work, which is definitely a feat that not all debut albums achieve. Overall, Burch’s first complete solo effort shines more than it disappoints, weaving stories together both clearly and emotionally over a bed of simple, clean-cut indie pop.