Songs From Far Away (2005, 0 To 1)

Eric Holland and Jessica Congdon comprise Anagram, and are the latest to join the ever growing mass of electro pop duos. While the pair doesn’t bust the seams of the genre wide open, they do create a sound that’s discernable from the standard keyboard crowd.

‘Behavior’ starts off like the usual Little Darla fare – the soft voice of Congdon swims along with the gently buoyant melodies of Holland’s electric piano. But then the grumbling, fuzzy guitar resonates underneath it all, almost as if due to some mix-up, a shoegazer band was let into the studio.

Other songs like ‘Qualify’ sound like a slightly less hokey Ladytron; the beats are present but not entirely danceable, the vocals lapse into Ladytron’s speak-sing style but aren’t nearly as detached. The complete lack of bass (guitar, programmed, or otherwise) on many tracks adds to the lighter shade of pop effect.

And yet Anagram does not stop there. As the disc plays on, the sounds become more soothing. At several stops along the way (such as the cut called ‘Distance’) and especially on the final track ‘Un’, we hear reflections of the Hope Blister, or even echoes of This Mortal Coil and other early 4AD acts. The vocals become even more fey, the instruments (bells and cello make an appearance later on) become less ‘indie pop basement’ and more ‘warm cathedral’.

Overall it is just another electro pop album in the collection, but Songs From Far Away has enough diversity and flexibility to spend more time in the player than on the shelf.

-Mark Hughson 7/24/05

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