Anchor & Braille
Felt


4.0
excellent

Review

by Caleb McAlpine USER (109 Reviews)
August 3rd, 2009 | 103 replies | 14,803 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: If you thought 'Felt' would be simply amazing, you'll be surprised to find out that it's much, much more.

Dimly lit rooms. Candles. Apparitions. Floating. These are all random thoughts that surface in the dregs of my mind whilst listening to Stephen Christian's solo project 'Felt'. The best part about all these seemingly unconnected thought-processes is the fact that throughout the entire duration of 'Felt', never once did I think about Anberlin. When I listened to the haunting, yet romantic 'Blur' I wasn't reminded of Anberlin's 'Inevitable'; when I listened to the poppy and illustrious single 'Like Steps In a Dance' I did not immediately think of Anberlin's 'Breathe'. Truth be told, 'Felt' separates itself so effectively and beautifully from Stephen Christian's real band that it's easy to pretend that he's a completely different artist with Anchor & Braille. The record sounds calming, brooding and completely spiritual in it's presentation; eery, enigmatic and comforting; celestial, emotive and artistic all at once. Carried by the soothing falsettos of Stephen Christian and prodded along by catchy pianos, muted trumpets and crescendoing strings, the record is remarkably engrossing for something so organic and stripped down. Simplicity. Heartbreak. Love. Death. With each successive listen, a myriad of new words present themselves relatable to 'Felt' -- and luckily, none of those words are "Anberlin".

However, if any element of Anberlin was carried over in Stephen Christian's transition from frontman to singer-songwriter, it was his ability to create brain-invading hooks and anthemic, catchy choruses. In more obvious cuts like 'Rust (The Short Story of Mary Agnosia)' and 'Sheet Music / Sheet Music', Christian's ability to create a hook is completely uncanny -- boiling up memorable melodies that refuse to leave your head, even after one listen. Counterintuitively, more spiritual and distant-in-nature songs such as the poignant 'Wedding / Funeral' or the elegiac 'Summer Tongue' communicate just as much as the poppier tunes with their foreboding atmosphere and dissonant composition. In perfect balance with Stephen Christian's positively astral voice (if you thought he commanded Anberlin with ease, you'll marvel at how much more well suited he is in front of a piano), the instrumentation is deservedly minimalist, providing an ample and effective backdrop for the vocal wizardry that makes up the majority of the record. However, that's not to say that the band production of 'Felt' is run-of-the-mill; it isn't in the slightest: producer Aaron Marsh of Copeland (who makes an appearance on 'Forget Love, I Just Want You to Make Sense to Me Tonight') keeps things interesting with a few guitar solos, sparkling bells, electronic drums and decidedly unglossy production that highlights the sincerity of Stephen Christian's writing.

Searching for a glaring fault on a near flawless record is a trying but relatively fruitful quest: throughout 'Felt', Christian undoubtedly abuses his ethereal falsetto; while this isn't terribly disconcerting (it's more like getting smothered by purring chinchillas, cute but asphyxiating), it does lessen the lasting effect of the record. Secondly, Christian has a small knack for self-plagariazation, with some songs sounding increasingly familiar to one another -- for example, 'Rust (The Short Story of Mary Agnosia)' and 'Like Steps In a Dance' boast catchy choruses that sound almost identical, despite being in separate keys and scales. Lastly, 'Felt' may steal one too many pages from Aaron Marsh's Holy Book of Copeland (most of which can be accredited to Aaron Marsh's production), with a handful of the compositions sounding like unpolished samples off of 'You Are My Sunshine'. Ultimately, these nuances are so easily forgivable given the awe-filled bulk of 'Felt' and the repetition is basically completely ignorable.

'Felt' is evocative and engaging; enigmatic and magical, functioning cohesively with little to no decrepencies. 'Felt' is a record of many words. Power outage. Sincerity. Afterlife. Or as Stephen Christian himself describes it, "exploring a museum at night with all the lights off". Ultimately, there are a million different ways to describe 'Felt'; none of which involve the word "Anberlin" or "letdown". Hallelujah.



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user ratings (84)
Chart.
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
S. J. Deakin (4)
An album of emotional ups and downs that ultimately leaves the listener drained but satisfied....

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Comments:Add a Comment 
Waior
August 3rd 2009


11451 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Easily my worst review in recent times; probably because I reviewed twice as much in July than my usual 4-a-month.

Great record though.

Streaming: http://www.myspace.com/anchorandbraille

roofi
August 3rd 2009


959 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i agree completely with your review, caleb mcalpine

summer tongues rules so much

kingsoby1
Emeritus
August 3rd 2009


4950 Comments


is this another christian rock album

Masochist
August 3rd 2009


8017 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Hallelujah, indeed.

I didn't realize that I hadn't thought about Anberlin while listening to this album (which I'm doing right now) until you pointed it out. His voice is so perfectly suited for this type of music...naturally, that is. The Falsetto seems a bit forced at places, like he simply wanted to throw in a high-note in his songs.

The first time I heard "Like Steps In A Dance," I got a feeling in the pit of my stomach that I can't describe. I only remember that I got the exact same feeling from listening to "Don't Panic," by Coldplay.

PanasonicYouth
August 3rd 2009


7411 Comments


caleb, stop writing good reviews. jeez.
but ya i wanna hear this now.

Waior
August 3rd 2009


11451 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks for the feedback, everybody.

masochist, I'm glad this wasn't an album of "A Day Late (Acoustic Version)".

Kris, do it. Link in the first comment...

ScorpionStan
August 3rd 2009


1834 Comments


wait how can you have this review up and not have listened to the album?

nice work though, i'll probably pos after i read the whole thing

Waior
August 3rd 2009


11451 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I've listened to it plenty.

ScorpionStan
August 3rd 2009


1834 Comments


is there somewhere to listen to it other than myspace? i thought you could only get samples on the myspace.

Waior
August 3rd 2009


11451 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

http://www.last.fm/user/Waior/library/music/Anchor%2B%2526%2BBraille

I suppose.

ScorpionStan
August 3rd 2009


1834 Comments


aha, the magic of last fm. should've known haha.

raggedragamuffin
August 3rd 2009


689 Comments


nice review. i'm really excited to listen to this now.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
August 3rd 2009


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Someone's eaten a thesaurus! Haha. Great review Caleb. I can't wait to hear this.

And if you feel like someone is stalking you over the next few days... It's probably Chan!

Waior
August 3rd 2009


11451 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

How nightmarish.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
August 3rd 2009


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

'Felt' marks a successful side-project foray for Anberlin vocalist Stephen Christian, as he presents 11 stripped back numbers that should appeal to fans & non-fans of his main band. Alluring & dreamy vocals are the highlight here and, while the album does get a little samey over its 45 minute duration, it is relatively consistent. From the relaxing 5 minute 'Summer Tongues' to the quaint sub 3 minute 'Calm, Calm, Calm Yourself', the variation in moods is sufficient. There is also a nice mixture of instrumentation, with the opener alone using strings, horns & an organ. Recommended Tracks: Summer Tongues, Rust, Calm Calm Calm Yourself & Like Steps In A Dance.

Waior
August 3rd 2009


11451 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Nah, it was elegiac.

atrink
Contributing Reviewer
August 3rd 2009


2845 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

and you were ready to shoot me cuz it was only clips on myspace

Waior
August 3rd 2009


11451 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hey, that wasn't me.

atrink
Contributing Reviewer
August 3rd 2009


2845 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

oh yeah... that was zippermouth

atrink
Contributing Reviewer
August 3rd 2009


2845 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

good review btw. i love the last paragraph



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