Music

Anna Burch's 'Quit the Curse' Is a Break-up Album with an Unexpected Twist

Photo: Elene Usdin (Polyvinyl Records)

Anna Burch's debut full-length Quit the Curse is a grand tour through mediocre romantic attachments.

Quit the Curse
Anna Burch

Polyvinyl

2 Feb 2018

Relationships can be a trash bin, and sometimes it's overflowing. Well, at least that's how Anna Burch's relationships seem to be going. Her debut full-length Quit the Curse is a grand tour through mediocre romantic attachments. There are stops at anger, boredom, regret, and, of course, yearning. Fortunately, Burch freshens up the typical indie rock take on this tired topic by sounding healthy about the whole thing.

Quit the Curse is Anna Burch's solo debut, but it's not like she is brand new or anything. She's been hanging around helping others with their music for a decade plus. Burch has been a background member of Frontier Ruckus and the lead in Failed Flowers and most recently helped with vocals on Fred Thomas' excellent Charger just last year. Thomas paid the favor back by sending Burch's demos to Polyvinyl, and they promptly signed her.

She's stated in interviews that she started writing songs just a few years ago. Being on set for so many years must have fed her head quite well because this set of songs sounds natural and quite developed for such a green singer-songwriter. With a backbone of sturdy chord strums, the songs sway from '90s indebted indie to '60s girl group swagger. The production is minimal and warm, and the occasional guitar lead pops up not to show off but to pleasantly lead the way to the next stop. Overall, it's an understated album and that's just plain comfortable to live in.

Lyrically, it's heavily invested in the journey of the romantic relationship. Mostly, Burch sticks to the bad, but it's not so sad because Burch breathes confidence into these break-up narratives. "2 Cool 2 Care" is a satiric take on the one-sided unrequited affair while "Quit the Curse" is a walk through the mind of a recently-single-but-still-in-the-feels Burch in which she tells her partner to quit the complaining and let nature take its course. Later, on "What I Want" Burch says, "I want to be nice to you. Self-destruction is so played out. So is self-pity and self-doubt. Let's try to be OK." It's such a healthy twist on the typical narrative, and it's nice to hear someone practicing self-care. It's quite jarring for it to come from a rock record, of course, but that's the appeal.

The closing track begins with a sigh. It's called "With You Every Day", and it's about a relationship becoming stale, but in contrast, it contains the most blissful moment on the record. As the song warms up with some chill guitar strums, Burch sings "You're sweet like a little kind whose family is well-adjusted", the rhythm section kicks in, and a wonderfully multi-tracked Burch belts out a wordless chorus. The story continues with Burch proclaiming, "You don't let it show, so how would I know?" and we should be starting to get the picture that Burch is painting here: Relationships are full of pit falls and landmines, so take care of yourself first and foremost. Don't quit trying for love, don't give in to mediocrity, but also don't quit yourself. Basically, take out the trash when it's time.

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