Anacortes, Wash. band BellaMaine released its new EP An Anxious Mind on January 15th and I imagine the band must be pretty jazzed about the attention it’s been getting. University of Washington radio station KEXP has since dubbed the band one of the top local acts to watch in 2013 and the Puget Sound’s City Arts Magazinealmost immediately wanted to chat with the band in a Q&A feature. As locals everywhere tend to love the local stuff, they can get overenthusiastic about the potential for a new great sound. So, really, does the new EP live up to the hype? It sure does.
An Anxious Mind is an exploratory EP– perhaps that was unintentional, but it’s an exploration nonetheless. Each song seems to test the (North Puget Sound) waters of the band’s potential in different, if not genres, moods. While that title track is definitely worthy of a single, it’s the first track “Away with the Boys” that is markedly the most playable song on the EP – playable as in the most radio-friendly and immediately hooking, but also as in the most blissfully carefree. Please forgive the excessive hyphenations, but this is lo (ish)-fi-indie-pop-rock at its purest and I am in. That hooking characteristic is what the first song is for, after all, and it certainly succeeds here… and doesn’t stop.
Despite its seemingly exploratory nature, An Anxious Mind is an impressively cohesive for an EP. The gradual decrescendo that ends “An Anxious Mind” is stitched to an immediate crescendo in “Single Life.” Similarly, “A Single Life,” a track whose momentum can thank the drums, seamlessly becomes “Three Years” carrying the same rhythmic energy (energy that yearns for the stage).
In fact, the drums are a noticeable driving force throughout the entire album and might occasionally overshadow the complex and talented bass lines that are subtly present. The mixing of the album and the impassioned vocals of Julianne Thompson make the higher octaves naturally easy and possessive, but up until “Three Years” the ear does occasionally want of a more balanced sound. With this track, however, husband Nick Thompson’s solo vocals are complemented by an unprecedented bass-line showcase that rewards the listeners’ attention.
As far as intricacies are concerned, the album’s highlight might be “One Girl.” The track mirrors the travels of the EP as a whole and rightfully concludes the band’s skilled search of sound. The verdict? Bella Maine can do fine well what it pleases, because regardless of the direction it chooses to go, regardless of the track whose sound it chooses to follow (if any particular one at all) – it’ll sound good. It’s music – so that’s what matters, right?