When I heard the EP, “The Past”, by Anna Belle, I was in love. Instantly. It was fun, fresh, funky and totally what I needed to break through the monotony that can become modern Top40 music. Someone was finally doing something different, making the throwback synth-pop music cool again, and I for one, was really surprised how unforced it all feels. Just like her voice, the music sounds airy, confident and effortless.
It’s as if these songs have always existed before, and you’ve stumbled on a selection of old hits that you’d forgotten about, but are delighted to be reminded of. The feeling conjures up that false sense of instant familiarity, which is one of the most potent and difficult tricks in pop music. It’s what lies behind the mammoth success of many mega-hits.
Of course my case is strengthened by the opening track, which even carries the perfect title – “Nostalgia”. It’s electro-pop magic, with its warm shimmering keys, luscious harmonies, and taut backdrop, is immersive and made from a much broad sonic palette.
Anna Belle has more great ideas in just one EP – nay, in just one song – than nearly all of her contemporaries. “Synthquest.Midi” explores a strictly instrumental but equally alluring pasture, over a backdrop of atmospheric keys and rolling basslines.
“Dead Mall” is the cheekiest and charming of the lot, perhaps – and certainly the most immediately catchy – with its sun-kissed swagger and urban-like bounce a near-perfect echo of the crossover hybrids modern music has to offer, but it’s hardly the only gem here.
The three and a half minute slice of brilliance is undeniably splendid on the darker and edgier “Have Fun”, with its obsessive bass drum, fantastic synth work, and rich reverb-drenched vocals.
The closing track, “Genesta, Pt.1”, meanwhile, is another corker that is touching without being saccharine. Draped over a gorgeous descending piano, it has a warm and tactile sound. When pop music is this smart, this poignant, and this sublime, you’re immediately attracted to it. There’s a greater sense of ambition prevalent here as Anna Belle stretches both her sound and her voice.
Songs like this showcase a more sophisticated side to her music. Since listening to Anna Belle on her album ‘Annalogue’, there has always been the sense that she was a more interesting and diverse character than many of her Pop and EDM counterparts, and that is certainly apparent here again.
Though elegantly restrained, Anna Belle sounds on prime form, full of attitude and assertion. It’s immediately apparent that “The Past” marks a subtle yet significant progression of the Anna Belle aesthetic.
MORE ABOUT: Anna Belle is a retro-synthpop singer-songwriter-producer based in Nashville, TN. She began recording piano tracks at age 9 and started writing full songs shortly after. With her self-taught skills, Anna Belle began freelancing as a vocalist and composer for artists and clients all over the world when she was just 16. Now in college, she is a globally streamed music broadcast host and performer with a resume that includes an appearance on the regionally syndicated late show “The Mystery Hour,” a performance at Playlist Live Orlando 2019, and the completion of her new self-directed music video entitled “Nostalgia.”