By Michaela Barton (@lowkeypigeon)
Soaked in lush 80’s synths and electronic beats, Anna of the North’s new album Lovers offers a relaxed indie pop similar to that of 1975. Lovers could easily be mistaken for a soundtrack to a John Hughes romantic comedy – you can almost hear the luminescent legwarmers and questionable hair.
The lyrical journey Lovers offers is that of a breakup. Each song represents another stage of separation and the torturous confusion that is paired along. The lyrics are relatively simple yet wholly relatable for anyone who has struggled moving on from a failed relationship or has suffered unrequited love.
Moving On opens with the typical breeze of synths this album is accustomed to and starts the tale of heartbreak with a supportive reassurance to the songs protagonist and the listener. Judging by the first-person narrative of the rest of the album, Moving On may represent the typical words of support from friends directed at the protagonist after a breakup. “Darling I know sometimes it’s hard to take/ believe me I know, you’re going to make it through the day” may as well be the catchphrase for anyone trying to comfort a friend after a breakup. “I’m sure she meant what she said that night” is about believing that all because the relationship is now over, it wasn’t all a failure and the feelings shared were genuine.
Someone is a standout from the album, being one of the more upbeat. Following Moving On, Someone tells the act of trying to do just that. “Two drinks down, there’s something in the water, baby/ lose control, want someone to take me home” is another universal experience of drunkenly trying anything to distract from past love, even if it is just to have someone else to hold for one night. Someone sounds more like a song that would be playing in a club while this experience plays out with a chorus of I’m only human, baby sometimes I act a little crazy being an easily catchy line to belt out with friends.
The rest of Lovers continues the journey of heartbreak. Always demonstrates the pain of unrequited love and the emotional exhaustion that comes with it: I’m tired of being in love … always in the background. Always is a slower more weary tune to mirror the hopelessness of the lyrics. Feels describes this empty feeling further, addressing the lover directly and their hold on their heart saying I remember how it felt so good with you now I’m feeling like a shadow in the room. Baby and Friends have similar themes of begging for the lover to come back or at least explain where it all went wrong.
Fire is a turning point for the protagonist as the rose-tinted glasses are finally dropped and a hint of resentment for the past lover is expressed. “Such a fool to think you changed/ never shown me love, just another drug/ someone to heal your pain” narrates the realisation that the past lover is nothing like how they seemed when on top a pedestal and now that they’ve tumbled, the protagonist can see that they are too good to be moping around. After the more subdued melodies on previous tracks, Fire is another standout as the turning point narratively is marked by a stronger, more upbeat sound that hints hope that this heartbreak may finally be over. Offering another catchy chorus to be belted out with friends, Fire has a sound of triumph that comes with starting to move on.
However, the album’s closing song All I Want may mark a stumble as the protagonist asks it don’t even matter anymore who’s wrong or right/ but can you stay the night? There’s a atmosphere of vulnerability and tentativeness in the slow, gentle melodies. The way this song drifts off at the end gives an empty feeling which may suggest the album is a loop – after staying the night again, old feelings may bubble up and the protagonist could get stuck in this never-ending cycle of heartbreak without ever really moving on.
In a way, lyrically this whole album is pretty generic. The story of a breakup is one that has been told thousands of times before and this album doesn’t add too much to the narrative. Nothing overly new or even many standout lyrics that you can not-so-subtly tweet in hopes your ex will see. Some songs are catchy but that may be down more to the repetitiveness of the lyrics – simple choruses and pre-choruses will act as the main filler for the songs, with the few verses in a song being almost identical to one another.
Lovers offers more in the musicality than the lyrics. Despite the realistic sombre story of moving on from past love, the music doesn’t often mirror the same sorrow. Lovers opts for a fun stylistic blaze of synth melodies with complimentary dreamy like vocals. With the nostalgic party feel of the sound mixed with starkly confessional lyrics, the album almost symbolises the feeling of having to put on a brave face in front of friends on a night out while trying to hide the subtext of heartbreak. It’s a nice listen, one that people suffering from heartbreak can relate to without being forced completely into a state of despair by overly miserable melodies, but also one that can be enjoyed even with a fully intact heart. For anyone who enjoys the nostalgic feel of the 80’s, there’ll be a song or two on here to enjoy.