Anchor & Braille is, sadly, not two people with amusing pseudonyms, but, rather, a single songwriter, Stephen Christian. Felt, his first album, has been a work-in-progress for some four years. The resulting music certainly feels epic, with expansive string arrangements and dripping, mumbled lyrics. Lacking the spark or wit of a great pop songwriter, however, Christian’s music falls short of what it could have been.
The best moments on Felt are undoubtedly the fastest. Injecting the occasional synthesizer and sampled drum melody into the mix, songs like “Like Steps In A Dance” are a refreshingly upbeat break from the rest of the album’s soggy sentimentality. But, lacking variety of originality, Felt bores. Christian works hard to evoke heartbreak, but he focuses so much on it that by the middle of the record, it begins to lose its meaning.
Anchor & Braille has a sweetness that enables me to overlook some of the album’s more glaring faults—notably, a painful lack of originality. The songwriting on many of these songs are painfully conventional, with little or no change in mood or melody. Nevertheless, it’s an endearing and sugary pillow of sweet noise, trying desperately to follow in the successful footsteps of Maroon 5 or Coldplay. Felt is unremarkable, but ultimately harmless.