‘TENSION’ album review

Image courtesy of Facebook.com/AnchorandBraille

album: TENSION
artist: Anchor & Braille
genre: electro-pop
release date: May 22, 2020
star rating: four out of five

review by Logan Rine

TENSION, the fourth album from Stephen Christian’s studio project Anchor & Braille, is his most electric, synth-charged, dance-along material we’ve heard him write and produce yet. From play to fin, I enjoyed every bit of this record. You’re going to want to give this one a good several listens this summer. Dance. Party.

This artist has played such a significant role in the opening up of my (and I’m pretty sure every other good, white, Christian, alt. kid’s) music pallet in the mid-2000s. I was first introduced to Anchor & Braille through my love for Anberlin. That was all the way back in 2009, my freshman year in college, when the project’s freshman record, Felt, debuted. It was an exposure to a whole different side of Christian as a writer as well as exposure to the band Copeland, from a couple of its members playing a role in the recording of that first album. My music tastes were expanded and opened up for the better.

Years ago, I was able to speak with Christian after an intimate, sing-along show in OKC where we briefly chatted about what a different process it was for him when approaching writing and creating for Anchor & Braille as opposed to his other projects. From my understanding, there seemed to be quite a bit more room to breathe; the time and freedom to warrant a bit more experimenting due to the relatively small size and scope of the project. That fact may still ring true on TENSION, but this album feels like a huge, top 40 record.

The newest album in the project’s catalog is completely different than any other work before it. Up until now, Anchor & Braille has tastefully dispensed light, unaggressive, sonically-silk pop rock and Copeland-esque – and at times, even whimsical and quirky-type – balladic numbers. In complete contrast, this synth, dance-driven collection of tunes was right on time for your summer parties’ playlist demands.

After giving this album several listens, it feels as if there’s a possible reinvention of this specific soundscape Anchor & Braille has held to in past works. The entire premise of the project, in my experience, always felt like it was calling the listener to take a breath and relax, whereas this album gives you no other option but to move to it.

My favorite song on TENSION would have to be “TETHERED,” placed right at mid-album. What a jam. Tasty disco licks and bass moves perfectly push such a catchy melody. I’ve been humming it for a couple weeks now.

I’m a bit of a sucker for anything this dude puts out and have been for a while now. It had been several years since I had visited any of Anchor & Braille’s music, but I am so glad to have reviewed and enjoyed TENSION. I highly recommend. More than perfect for this summer!

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