Album Review :
Anchor & Braille - Songs for the Late Night Drive Home
Even the title of Anchor & Braille’s latest release conjures powerful emotions. Driving at night is certainly a mixed bag of emotions, but I’ve seen my fair share of it. Whether it’s driving through hours of open country fields or through a busy city at five in the morning, there’s a nature inclination to be pensive and introspective. While it’s sometimes good to throw on something with a bit more energy to stay awake, the natural setting is dark, moody, quiet, and empty.
Characteristically, Stephen Christian manages to capture this mood to some degree. Detroit Slab is saturated in Depeche Mode influence; sonic allusions to dances in high school gymnasiums accent the retro feel of Fatal Flaw; Live Fast. Die Young. constructs a mental image of driving through Miami as the sun sets.
Songs for the Late Night Drive Home is an eclectic mix of styles: electro-pop, R&B, chillwave, and hip-hop influences are all present to varying degrees. The variety is interesting, but the album is, for the most part, fairly slow. Like a number of other artists, Christian has chosen to incorporate his fair share of the signature 80’s pop sound here, and he does this well.
Ultimately, the album does live up to its title: it is urban, moody, slow, and atmospheric. However, this is not always inviting – at times, the album seems to pass by slower than a late-night drive home. Anberlin fans have come to expect a lot from Stephen Christian, but I don’t think this is the answer they’ve been looking for. There’s not much to hate here, but there’s also not too much to love. Standout tracks like Watch You Burn quickly lose their unique flavor to a continuous steam of analog synths that span the entire album. There’s pop influence, but it’s certainly not bound for the Top 40 charts. It rests in some awkward niche that certainly has its audience, but I would argue that audience does not consist of a majority of Tooth & Nail fans.