Album Review: Anchor & Braille - 'The Quiet Life'

11 August 2012 | 12:42 pm | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

Pop with an edge.

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When Anberlin front man Stephen Christian first released his Anchor & Braille project in 2009, with the album 'Felt,' many Anberlin fans were caught off guard with the actual music. In part, it was probably due to the expectation of the release serving merely as “acoustic Anberlin.” Essentially, those who didn't enjoy the instrument heavy quirk of that record will not feel like coming back to the party with the second release 'The Quiet Life,'. Things are pushed even further out, offering up more experimentation and an ever wider gap between this and Christian's full time work.

Opening with the up-beat and poppy 'Goes Without Saying', the vocals are far less haunting than on the first record. It shows off all the fine points in Christian's voice, set to strong piano chords and Owl City-esque synthesisers. The bright synthetic tones continue through to 'Knew Then Know Now', backed by a horrible sounding drum machine, which takes away from the full tones of the other instruments.

Melody plays a much stronger role on this record than its predecessor, with Christian's voice used more as a main driver of the songs opposed to being more in the background. Things get gritty with one of the stand out tracks 'In With The New', thanks to distorted vocal effects and a rigged drum beat. The aforementioned still maintains a sense of pop, which is prevalent throughout the entire record. A shot at the mainstream perhaps?

The vocals are pushed too far forward in the slow jazz like number 'Collapse', which is a pity as the song is one of the moments that breaks away from the synthy pop and brings out a fair bit of soul. A cover attempt rounds off the record as Jeff Buckley's 'Everybody Here Wants You' is given a re-work, with a strong beat and delayed vocals. While, this doesn't better the original (because it's impossible), and doesn't stray far from the well known feel of the song, there are worse covers out there. The final track, 'Before I Start Dreaming' is the record's softest moment, driven by synth pad percussion and the haunting vocal style of the first record.

'The Quiet Life' is a more mainstream version of Anchor & Braille's first release. Defined in its own style, but still fairly heavy on experimentation when compared to the main works of Stephen Christian. One for open-minded Anberlin fans.

1. Goes Without Saying
2. Knew Then Know Now
3. Find Me
4. In With The New
5. If Not Now When
6. Kodachrome
7. Collapse
8. Hymn For Her
9. Everybody Here Wants You
10. Before I Start Dreaming