Review Summary: the one that's more shadow than sun
Shy, introverted, kinda lonely Anna Burch tries to compensate with this one. Quit the Curse
is suffused with a frankness present only to communicate the thoughts otherwise obstructed by notions of social acceptability and the like. ”I like you best when you’re a mess”"
you just can’t say that to people, Anna.
I’m stood at the foot of a really peculiar crossroads here: the record is boring, in a sense -- as lazy and ambling as the hours that make a Sunday afternoon; and yet -- and yet -- there’s an undeniable charm to the way Anna finds comfort in her own lazy compositions. Guitars are jangly and dry, happy to skip sheepishly between the few open chords one learns in the first couple of months after they pick up the axe (though she’s mastered the use of the capo, so I suppose it evens out), and the bass sticks to the assigned, plodding root notes with utmost conviction. As such, there’s little to hide behind, which is perfect for Burch -- who pens these lovesick open letters with every intention of them being heard without the embellishments. In the space of Asking 4 A Friend
, ”So why do I feel so exposed, when I’m the one who’s more composed"”
isn’t a rhetorical question, because it needs the response to resolve. ”You’re faking the fall”
, it concludes -- like it’s found the answer and it, somewhat disappointingly, hasn’t affected the dynamic in the slightest.
Memeified song titles aside, Burch’s humour manifests as some kind of medicine. Quit the Curse
owns its fumbling awkwardness, lives in it, in an attempt to reclaim a confidence lost in the sideways glances of the people (person") around (inside") her. Consider 2 Cool 2 Care’s
standout lyric: ”From what I can see, reciprocity is boring, but I’m tired of unrequited love stories”
, which is memorable, amusingly, because it’s not meant to be. The delivery is dry and deadpan, less wrapped up in nostalgia and reverb than most singer-songwriters occupying the same niche (mellow, introspective jangle pop), and it makes you feel like you’re eavesdropping. More specifically, it’s like you’ve picked up on the passive aggressiveness of Burch’s words before her intended audience has. How awkward.
So despite the rut she’s found herself in, we’re laughing with her, not at her. The record makes no indelible mark on your day -- I imagine this skirting the periphery of most year-end lists, the perennial shut-out waiting flustered at the gates (“I’m sorry, you’re not on the list”) -- but it’s detailed enough to add dimensions to the scene Burch sets. She sets it tiredly; no, wait! sleepily
-- a word that conjures peacefulness rather than such a haggard and frayed type of exhaustion, but also comfortably.
I’m a little bit in love with it, but I’m also disappointed in it. Comfort leads to complacence leads to “what might have been”: a hypothetical I hope I continue to avoid.