Album Reviews

K Anderson – The Overthinker

(Edna Sounds) UK release date: 6 September 2010

Comparing yourself to the best parts of Lily Allen, Ryan Adams and Tegan and Sara sets the bar fairly high; especially when your particular brand of freewheeling pop is supposed to be both personal and bombastic.

Rather than trying to set expectancy at impossibly high levels, however, one imagines that K Anderson intends to provoke curiosity about his “lesbian music by a boy”. Do we have on our hands, then, a less melodramatic Mika?

Anderson is certainly less divisive than the Beirut-born diva. The Overthinker is a little pedestrian by comparison, but that’s no bad thing: here is a sincere offering of smartly penned, organic sounding pop, and the slight gruffness of Anderson’s tone renders him as listenable as his Aussie-born compatriot Daniel Merriweather.

Indeed, the protagonist’s relatively short tenure in London – six years and counting – provides fuel for the album’s fire. Location checks come thick and fast, encounters with new folk are recollected and there’s a certain curious interest in urban foxes; namely The Overthinker’s longest track (a maudlin crescendo) and Anderson’s notoriously furry gig get-up.

With proceedings opening with the impressively smoky This Changes Everything – a double bass thumbing jazz club number – the album promises much, and quickly gets the listener onside. Bulletproof Kids, too, offers lighthearted relief in the Boy Least Likely To schoolyard anthem mould.

And while Shrug captures the qualities of an elusive, knowing, Bugsy Malone-esque toe-tapper, High Horse and the aforementioned Foxes rob the album of its momentum; the latter, especially, jarring events with its tectonic tempo and hitherto unapparent mawkishness.

Though tasked with rebuilding The Overthinker’s unintentionally squandered head of steam, Same Kind Of Grim seems to represent Anderson’s second – or even third – attempt to encapsulate his sorrow, and this time he finds success: traipsing over a suitably forlorn progression, the track represents a lyrical high watermark (“My past is getting longer / Like a tail I drag between my legs”).

Despite the eventual success of such honest introspection, it is with atypical pop that Anderson excels: The Boy In Pearls boasts an immediately listenable M.I.A.-style peculiarity; album closer Wear Me Down’s beauty lies in its simplicity before it devolves into an amusingly insecure monologue.

The album’s spine, however, consists of pared back pourings of heartache that endeavour but ultimately fail to entice. Spoons, for instance, is a little too familiar in terms of theme and sound, and the same can be said for T-Shirt Collection; as romantic as it aspires to be, it comes across as somewhat contrived. That said, Don’t Waste Your Arrows – saved as it is by a splendidly brief enraged section – is something of a comparative luxury.

Unfortunately for K Anderson, The Overthinker’s title rings all too true: though so entitled to thumb the nose at detractors, Anderson’s overanalysed, candid insecurities are aired to the extent that they engulf the album’s erstwhile intentions to entertain, �and promises of freewheeling pop ring hollow. While he clearly has an instinct for this lark, he could do with embracing his intuitive talents with a little more impulsiveness and a little less indulgence.

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K Anderson – The Overthinker