Peaks and downswings.
It’s always a tragedy when an album starts off well and gradually flatlines. Unfortunately, that’s how the new Anchor & Braille release from Stephen Christian (ex-Anberlin) plays out.
At first, it seems like the only way is up: ‘Watch You Burn’ eludes The-1975-esque vibes instrumentally and chill-rock vocals, which resemble those of other solo artists captured in non-band environments like Brandon Flowers. The electro-oriented side of the album slows down on ‘Detroit Stab’ while its vocals rise theatrically, ricocheting off the synthscapes.
As Christian has discussed, it’s definitely true that the record takes cues from the ‘Drive’ soundtrack, which you can detect on ‘Lower East Side’. That track also brings a higher level of dynamism to the LP, in terms of atmosphere and range. It looks like it could stay that way by the initially fuzzy ‘Fatal Flaw’, a catchy, ballady pop tune, featuring a distinguishable influence from one George Michael.
However, the rest of the album very much mirrors its first half: ‘Keep Dancin’, ‘Chances’ and ‘Summer’ are romantic yet similar, ‘Live Fast. Die Young’ has an unoriginal title and could either be lounge music or a creative Lana Del Rey cover and ‘Still Looking’, though containing an awesome play on Christian’s vocal range, sounds like a song that would soundtrack the credits of a cheesy 2000's movie.
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The title of this album is perfect, because it’s easy to imagine it hitting you hard when you’re driving late at night, feeling the synth pulsate through the speakers and the words make their way into your heart. But listening to two tracks will make you feel like you’ve heard the whole thing, and in that way, it fails to transcend the slim window of opportunity you have to enjoy it.
‘Songs For The Late Night Drive Home’ is eclectic in terms of its divergence from the music churned out by the alternative scene Stephen Christian has inhabited for most of his career, but his solo project may as well be called Anchor & Stale the way it fails to unveil any further depth behind the one or two solid tracks it stands behind.
1. Watch You Burn
2. Detroit Stab
3. Lower East Side
4. Fatal Flaw
6. Keep Dancin'
7. Live Fast. Die Young
10. Still Looking