Anna Burch: If You’re Dreaming (Polyvinyl) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Saturday, May 30th, 2020  

Anna Burch

If You’re Dreaming

Polyvinyl

Apr 03, 2020 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Anna Burch’s 2018 debut Quit the Curse introduced her to the world with jangly guitar pop melodies. Despite the bittersweet lyrics, Burch’s indie rock bursts with satisfying and bright energy. If You’re Dreaming strikes a different chord from the first song. The songs here are airy, dreamlike, and far less direct than Burch’s debut. Although the understated execution results in an album that is less immediate than her last, these meditations on isolation and anxiety display a gentle beauty.

Burch’s airy vocals are the highlight of If You’re Dreaming. She floats above the instrumentals, lending the songs a tranquil lilt. They fit nicely into the spacey pop sound of songs such as “So I Can See” or “Every Feeling.” Other tracks create sunny soft rock, such as opener “Can’t Sleep” or the warm guitar solo on “Go It Alone.” These tracks hew closer to what listeners found on Quit the Curse but with a languid approach that lets Burch’s immaculate vocals and beautiful arrangements stand out.

If You’re Dreaming is colored by feelings of isolation, transience, and desire for connection. Burch wrote the album after coming off of an extended period of intense touring. “Party’s Over” reflects this mindset minutes into the album as Burch intones “I’m so tired/I’m so tired/I’m so tired.” The uncertain and transient space the album was written within captures the anxiety of this time almost presciently. In the age of social distancing, the longing in lines such as “You’re asking when will you come back to me/But I gotta stay away so I can clearly see” will likely hit closer to home than ever.

While Burch’s characteristic melancholy and soul-searching makes up much of the first half of the album, the second half finds bright spots of hope and internal joy. “Not So Bad” strikes a note of optimism among bleak times as Burch finds happiness in her memories with a partner. She sings, “It plays in my head alone/Our love is a picture show.” The song also adds some welcome instrumental variety with its guitar licks, bass groove, and jazzy sax flourishes. Yet it also maintains the easy energy of the album as a whole. The LP also ends on a sunny and romantic note with “Here With You,” as Burch finds solace and comfort in simply being with her partner.

If You’re Dreaming undoubtedly feels like a different album than its predecessor. The soft and dreamy approach brings less of the instantly catchy indie rock energy of her debut. Yet the album’s slow burn gives it staying power. Meanwhile, Burch’s exploration of the highs and lows of her inner world remains compelling as ever. She gives voice to uncertainty and isolation while pointing towards inner hope and peace. When combined with a blissful sound and lush instrumentation, the album plays like a simple comfort for turbulent times. (www.annaburchmusic.com)

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 6/10



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