With the sudden interest in 1990s-era shoegazer and dream-pop, it’s no surprise that a revisit to the works of the West Coast band Trespassers William is in order. Though later in its existence than bands currently being feted,the band—built around the creative duo of Anna-Lynne Williams and Matt Brown—would release three albums and a handful of singles before calling it a day in 2012.
Anchor, their debut album, was released in 1999, yet quickly fell out of print, due to the impassioned love shown them via the nascent World Wide Web. That obsession is quite understandable; Williams and Brown knew that her voice was the band’s greatest strength, and so the band worked dutifully to provide her with melodies that gently cradled her impressive voice. It’s a minimalist approach, too; the band never gets too loud or distracting.
Anchor is dark, but it’s not morose, and the dreamier bliss pop elements of later records isn’t as prevalent, resulting in a hazy, country-rock not unlike Tarnation, Natalie Merchant, or future label mate Sarah McLachlan. The lackadaisically paced “Broken” and “Desert” are serene, peaceful, and lulling, while the more delicate balladry of “My Eyes Were Closed” and “Washes Away” leave you empathizing with Williams, your heart touched by the sound of her angelic voice. “Umbrella” is the pop hit that got away, a breezy number that’’s slightly psychedelic and most definitely catchy.
Overall, Anchor is anchored in gentleness, tenderness, and emotional longing, declared not with sonic effects or gimmickry—unless you consider simplicity and sincerity a gimmick. Trespassers William would go on to make two more albums, both rooted in Anchor’s aesthetic, but both were much more polished, intricately produced affairs. Anchor definitely shows that there was greatness from the get-go, and this reissue is a reminder of the greatness of this sadly defunct band.
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