Can Hart elevate our souls?
Au Revoir Simone’s Annie Hart arrives as a solo artist armed with plenty of synths, understated vocals and a collection of songs informed by romantic pain. At first blush, the record seems indistinguishable from half a dozen other albums of this ilk, composed and recorded in basements and bedrooms across North America and certain strips of Europe. Closer listening reveals something more nuanced, even if not everything rises to the level of indispensable on Impossible Accomplice.
Hart has no problem crafting hooks that reel us in and keep us on the edge of our collective seat. The opening “I Don’t Want Your Love” will bore a hole deep into your brain, though one wonders what the lightweight track’s overall significance is at the end. There, as with so much of the record, we’re left to the singer’s charms. She can sing and capture our attention, but can she elevate our souls? The answer seems to be a resounding no.
She fares better when her voice comes to the fore and she expresses something closer to abandon, as she does on “Run to You,” a song about those moments when one isn’t sure whether to run toward someone or run like hell away. Her ability to capture the emotional pendulum in half swing is one of this album’s great charms, though the clunky, by-the-numbers chords and rhythms turn what could otherwise be an emotionally revelatory moment into another dance with overfamiliarity.
There are some unexpectedly sublime moments, including the classically-influenced keyboards heard during the intro of “On the Way Down,” the handclaps of “Breathing Underwater” as well its ‘80s film score synth leanings. The latter, though, doesn’t offer much more than intriguing texture. It quickly becomes lost in its own demo-ish-ness, another idea that never fully gets off the ground. That’s much the same for the LP’s back end: “I’ve Been Seeing You in My Dreams” is a late-night journal entry, a tipsy text that reveals little and offers less.
That might be the crux of this whole collection: Hart plays her cards close to her chest, hinting at the particulars but reluctant to reveal them. It is, of course, the specifics that convince listeners to stay or to go, and without these specific we’re more apt to do the latter. Because Hart hesitates to open up and reveal her inner thoughts and feelings, there’s not much here for the listener to latch onto, and these songs are mostly forgettable after the album comes to a close. Ultimately, Impossible Accomplice isn’t an egregious misstep by Hart, but her solo debut isn’t an album that’s destined to set the world on fire, either. There’d have to be fewer secrets and a little more blood in the grooves for that.