Portland, Ore.'s ANNE garnered flashes of buzz with their 2010 demo and Mixtape One, but praise is most certainly deserved for Dream Punx, which plucks a couple songs from those releases and adds new jams that are even better.
Ostensibly, you could call ANNE a shoegaze band. But that almost discredits their sound in a way, because they take so many measures from the darker eras of the alternative canon that they're really a sprawling and diverse band that could fit in at any point on the timeline. There's a huge, humming buzz that opens the record on "All Your Time" that wouldn't be out of place on a Jesu record, while "Lower Faiths" contains both this New Order-style goth-club synth and a ringing guitar tone The Edge totally would have eked out on one of the first U2 albums. It's a brilliant contrast of post-punk variants and it works wonderfully. Of course, similarly older predecessors like the Cure (circa Disintegration) and My Bloody Valentine (check the swirling "Tarvantovaara") are apt comparisons, with marginally buried vocals that have just the right amount of longing and emotional distress to them.
A389 says these older songs are simply remixed and remastered here, but take something like the aforementioned "All Your Time" (Mixtape One) and it sounds fully re-recorded. This version is louder, tighter and more emphatic, and represents a bolder thrust for the band that'll be quite interesting to watch them explore on an impending proper full-length. Otherwise, the song might sound virtually unchanged, like "Perfect Teeth" (Mixtape One as well) and its smooth, smeary and breathy melodies.
Aside from the kinda previously released demos and mixtape tracks, "Virginal Plight" was the first song released from the album (in the form of a video), and it's easy to hear why. It's the most immediate, dynamic track on Dream Punx, with a killer, sneering guitar tone signaling the transition to a darkwave-style chorus and this incredible pensiveness stressing the verses. And it cuts the bullshit, simply shutting down at the three-minute mark after the final chorus. Speaking of guitar tone, that's another of ANNE's fantastic features: They have this sharp, swaying timbre that just jumps out and grabs you at times ("Summer Babies"), and it's totally awesome.
With West Coast acts like Deafheaven and Whirr contributing to a thrilling shoegaze makeover of sorts, Dream Punx solidifies ANNE's place in this revival and reinvention, and it's going to be exciting to see where they help take it.