Anne Summers – Very Classy

Anne Summers
Very Classy

Anne Summers are from Northern Virginia, and I remember seeing them play live several times when I lived there. I saw them when they were a young band, and they were so bad at times that you thought you’d never hear from them again. Well, suffice it to say, Anne Summers have improved their sound a few thousand times since them. While they were rough and unable to decide between rock and pop before, now they’ve found the perfect balance.

Anne Summers play power-pop, the kind of stuff you’ve certainly heard before and likely never been able to resist. That’s the joy of it. The songs are so damn catchy and witty, at times slower and more poppy, at times faster and more rocking. But it’s not easy to make a good power-pop album. Anne Summers have certainly shown they have the perfect balance between the playful and the serious, the rock and the pop. Good lead and backing vocals are vital to good power-pop, and Anne Summers has that quality as well.

You get all the different flavors of power-pop here. “King of Disaster” is silly and witty and fun, with keyboards and a nod back to the Elvis Costello days of pop, and “Ditch Digger” is all-out fun. This one will have you bouncing around and singing along in no time. “Real Life” is very light and cheerful at moments and slightly punky at others, for an interesting combination that sounds very much like my personal favorite power-pop band, Fig Dish. And although “Octoberfest” is not quite as all-out and powerful, the use of backing vocals here for great harmonies and a wonderful sense of mature songwriting makes this one a lot of fun.

There is definitely a feeling of 70’s pop bliss going on here. “Uh-huh, Oh-no” has the catchiest elements of old Sloan and the like with a purely guitar-driven rock-pop sound. And “Conrad Takes On the World,” with a nice, repetitive guitar line and a very light, almost Beach Boys-style vocal style, brings that older sound into a more modern feel.

I’m not sure if the band’s slower moments work as well. There’s certainly a soulful feel on the quieter “Vitamins,” but it doesn’t have the same energy or enthusiasm that’s apparent on the other songs. “Road Rally,” however, is pure bliss. More of a Costello-style pop wonder, this track is the stand-out, even if it isn’t as all-out and playfully poppy as the other tracks. “Surprise Party,” the last track here, is one of those slower and pretty pop numbers with just a hint of attitude and doses of plunky piano. This one will have you swaying back and forth for sure.

It’s nice to see that Anne Summers has improved so much from their old day. Northern Virginia has its share of some of the best indie power-pop bands, and now Anne Summers is shoving their way to the top of that list. This album is a lot of fun, and while it won’t change the world, it will keep you dancing and singing along and hopefully indifferent of the changing world around you.