Anna of the North developed out of a chance encounter between Norwegian Anna Lotterud and New Zealander Brady Daniell-Smith in a bar in Melbourne. Lotterud – who impulsively travelled to Australia after an anonymous customer implored her to abandon her life of routine and normalcy, and to expand her horizons – was out mending a broken heart, and Daniell-Smith – who was dealing with his own relationship complications – was performing an acoustic set. Somehow Lotterud was persuaded to get up and sing, and afterwards she and Daniell-Smith struck-up a friendship and were soon exorcising their relationship demons through music.
Considering Anna of the North’s origins, naming the debut album Lovers is hardly surprising, nor is the lyrical focus on matters of the heart. What is surprising is the consistent tone and quality that permeates the record. Make no mistake, Lovers doesn’t break new ground instead opting to mine the ‘80s and early ‘90s for its dream-pop palate. Synths and electronic-drums abound, and the reverb unit used in the album’s production certainly got a hard workout. This penchant for using reverb actually results in the only explicitly bad moment of the record on Baby, where the overuse of the effect diminishes the appeal of Lotterud’s vocals which are otherwise Lovers’ drawcard.
Moving On opens the album strongly with Lotterud’s smooth and sweet vocal’s drawing the listener in, and the vocal layering broadcasts that she will be in high demand as a guest singer. A key change during Someone adds to the retro-tonality while also illustrating that Lotterud and Daniell-Smith know how to use musical techniques to mask when they have run a musical/lyrical idea to exhaustion. Excepting Fire, which is given a tropical and full vibe thanks to its beats, Lovers is a cool, sparse album focused on Lotterud’s gorgeous voice. Despite Lotterud’s captivating vocals, Lovers’ synth-heavy dream-pop sound doesn’t help it stand out from the crowd, but the record nonetheless promises good things from Anna of the North in the future.