I’m probably not the first to be fooled here, but I assumed a female led this group. Indifferently, I resigned that assumption and fully embraced the male melancholy drawl of Alex Hillmer, front man of the San Francisco-based band Anaura. Immediately standing out were the singer/songwriter’s choice of vocal melodies, backing vocal arrangement and all around well-refined progressions. Anaura’s fourth studio effort, Champion of the Moon showcases a mature, atmospheric, multi-faceted and mood-evoking collection. Anaura has honed its sound to the point where the listener is constantly renewed in interest from track to track. The writing is comfortable in range and content with little risks or departure from poetic heartstrings.
Anaura is alternative in nature and breaks the mold of their contemporaries by finding beauty in their approach to song writing. The members call it dark pop and they’re not far off in that subgenre. On “Sweet Lover Lost” the acoustic twang sounds right out of Fleetwood Mac’s songbook but with a haze of Smashing Pumpkins and the vocal styling of Pink Floyd. If you’re not sold on that recipe then expand your musical horizons my friend.
The next track “Vinyl” really solidifies the band’s true sound – a murky gem of crunch guitar and disgruntled romanticism. When I heard those backing vocals, it was nothing short of a Beach Boys moment. The timbre and polyphonic structure has this light-hearted yet haunting tone - a very unique contrast and pleasant surprise to say the least. It just might be the stand out. I’ve listened to “Vinyl” at least ten times already and I don’t do that often. Hats off to you Anaura.
Each song on Champion of the Moon is well crafted and mixed to a T. Some critics have compared their sound to Weezer, but I see Anaura as more of an amalgamation of sound both new and old, making their brand much less comparable and very much their own. Give this record a listen and find the good vibes that I did hiding away in an otherwise complacently painted project. From start to finish, the songs follow a personal narrative that I think will apply itself to the listener and strengthen that musical bond between waves and ears.
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