It’s interesting to cover a band that’s been at it for 20 years, but has a fresh sheen of paint to their sound in 2020. That’s the case with The Anix, the project of Brandon Smith. Originally a full band, Brandon made the transition to a solo act in 2017 and has switched away from the band’s previous alternative sound to implement synths and techy production. 2020 marks the fourth straight year of an album, so let’s see how Graphite shapes up in the scheme of The Anix’s longevity:
Some songs get the band treatment, but The Anix’s appeal lies within the layered synthesizer runs that swathe each song. You can hear distinct guitars in songs like “Still Standing,” but others like “Die with You” forego it all, perhaps to bring emphasis to Brandon’s vocals. His voice is akin to Jared Leto in delicate, driven delivery.
The tracks on Graphite are similar in structure, but quite different in sound. The pounding bass in “Hideaway” makes it a strong outing, whereas “Give it Up” is more easygoing in its approach. The strides The Anix take are wide, but I found some of the songs a bit winded after a few minutes as each of the 13 have a semi-long runtime and tread the same ground quite often.
Some of these tracks would fit right at home on a nightclub atmosphere just swell, such as “Chains” and “Nothing Matters.” Brandon also features the artists GXG and Aura Shred in more of the deep cuts, a welcome addition as their contributions are evident in their respective pieces.
Overall, the album is a steady, long listen, and serves a different purpose than the music I typically review, but there’s some positives to highlight with Brandon’s sound production implementation and execution. The electronic crowd will surely be able to spot more of the small cues, but with my first foray into this effort, I’m surely inclined to revisit it at a later date!
A press copy of Graphite was provided by impulse.