Anna of the North Sings of the Dark Side of ‘Lovers’: Album Review
Anna of the North’s debut album may be titled Lovers, but it is definitely not your average happily-in-love collection of tracks. The Oslo-based singer-songwriter (real name Anna Lotterud), who made a name for herself both with her own dreamy pop and with her work with Tyler, The Creator and Frank Ocean on “Boredom” and “911 / Mr. Lonely,” has crafted a 10-track album of songs about romance and the heartache that comes along with it on her debut record. If you’re looking for a beautiful, airy reflection on a love you’ve lost but not forgotten, or perhaps a crush that keeps slipping through your fingers, look no further.
Lovers begins with “Moving On.” The track works equally as an offer of sympathy and support to a hurting friend or a reminder of one’s own strength, with gorgeous guitar riffs and an emphasis on the phrase “moving on” rather than any of the hurt one is moving on from.
“Someone” and “Lovers,” both released as singles leading up to the album drop, hit with danceable beats and the artist's characteristic twinkling synths that almost cover up the guitar that sneaks into the choruses. The instrumentation is the backbone of the album, at times expanded, but for the most part holding steady while Lotterud expounds on her feelings.
Heartache swoops in with true bitterness in “Money” as Lotterud sings to a crush to warn them that the woman of their affection just wants one thing (if you couldn’t guess, it’s money). The dreamy synth and layered vocals are wistful and upbeat even as the lyrics are jealous and sad. “Always” follows, developing that jealousy into a broader theme. “I’m always in the background” segues into the chorus’ repeated lament of “I’m tired of being in love.” Here, the synth becomes as mournful as Lotterud, dissonant chords lingering amidst whooshing sound effects.
“Feels” is not quite the feels of, say, Lana Del Rey, but rather feelings of drifting and falling apart. Phrases like “a stone in my heart” and “we’re lost in the dark” create wistful remembrances of happier times.
Optimism bubbles up in “Baby,” though its excitement is reserved. Lotterud makes use of clever syncopation, making listeners as expectant and nervous as the lyrics are. The later choruses and bridge bring in even more layers as Lotterud begs, “Don’t fight it / Baby hold tight” over airy electronic arpeggios, a purposely muddied effect that is as confusing as new love itself.
“Fire” breaks the soft synth streak for a track that’s downright dance-y. Its beats are tropical and echo faintly of steel drums and sandy beaches. It is as reserved as “Baby,” as the artist sings, “I don’t want to go down in your fire,” sounding like a gentler companion to Selena Gomez’s recent collab with Kygo, “It Ain’t Me.”
“All I Want” finishes the lot out with a touch of hope to balance out the sadder history it alludes to. The chorus line “It don’t even matter who’s wrong or right” hints at a fight, but Lotterud continues right into an offering of peace: “But can you stay the night?” Just like the old adage of not going to bed angry at your lover, Anna of the North makes sure her album ends at a point of resolution.
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