Written by Barlovv
“You’re trying to hold back the dawn, because you profit off the night”
Vancouver punk outfit Anchoress have been absolutely shredding their way through the last – holy shit – twelve years. That previous sentence has really gone ahead and reminded me of how old I’ve gotten. Though this album does come after a break after their previous release, Anchoress is Ruining My Life, in 2016; Stay Positive demonstrates that these guys have been able to keep an incredible momentum and have released their strongest piece of work to date – and that’s saying something.
Anchoress have always come out of the gate hard and fast, each album tearing through songs with a ferocity that I don’t often see. Every song the guys release feels meaningful without overstaying it’s welcome. Making strong and hard points and moving on to the next one. This album in particular dealing with mental health, capitalism, political change, and feels very much of its time while being a piece of work that will undoubtedly hold meaning for a long time.
Tonally, Stay Positive does sometimes really feel like it lives up to its name, there is a lot of hopeful soundscapes and bright instrumentals that manage to – somehow – now clash with the fantastic vocals. An anger and intensity met with some truly emotional delivery makes this album pack a fucking punch. A side note, the album also provides a really danceable quality that really works as well, there are some extremely catchy grooves throughout and it just rules.
In doing some very light research (read: googling) to write this review, I found out what an “Anchoress” is, and its interesting enough that I wanted to sidetrack this review to share the definition: “a woman who was walled into a cell to live a life of prayer and contemplation… Anchoresses were enclosed in their cells and had no way to get out.” (source). It’s not hard to see this theme within this band’s work, even from the beginning. We are, perpetually, trapped by systemic forces that only seem beyond our control because of their sheer scale, but they are still a choice – we (the societal we, not you and me specifically necessarily) have built the cell that we are currently trapped in, and also managed to pull others in with promises that its way better in here. If that doesn’t feel like an apt metaphor for where we’re at currently, it’s hard to know what is.
Side tracking aside, Anchoress have been, without question, one of my absolute favourite bands for – once again, holy shit – 12 years. Since the extremely good dudes graced the podcast I had way back when as my first guests, and absolutely shredded my brain with their album Set Sail. I don’t often encounter a band that I’m able to hold on to for so long, and who consistently grow and change as artists in ways that only make them better. Anchoress is absolutely incredible, and if this is your first exposure to them – you’re welcome.
The Bottom Line
Stay Positive is an incredible album that you will want to listen to over and over. It manages to pair intensity and ferocity with a certain optimistic feeling that sticks around well after the album is over. Anchoress’ strongest work to date, of a discography of absolutely top-notch work.