As Portlandia has told us: The dream of the ’90s is alive in Portland. Anya Marina’s Felony Flats is living that dream out loud. The singer-songwriter’s relocation from San Diego to the rainy Oregon capital is painted plainly all over her latest LP. From first taste, the songs summon memories of longsleeved sweaters and pleated miniskirts – like a delicious alternate soundtrack to Empire Records. Pair that feel with Anya’s wispy vocals and rough guitar and you’ve got the perfect record for a dreary afternoon alone with your headphones.
Anya’s recordings have always been adorable, and Felony Flats is no exception. “Notice Me” delivers her usual pop promise, and even edgier, seductive tracks like “Flinty” still carry a degree of preciousness. However, there is a notable departure from the sweetness and place-ability of her previous work – 2009’s Slow and Steady Seduction: Part II tore up primetime TV, and her song “Satellite Heart” was given one of the coveted slots on the Twilight: New Moon soundtrack. Felony Flats explores some darker sonic territory and even contains a cuss word or two.
The direction her songwriting has taken may be less commercial, but it is certainly no less appealing. The marching beat of “Hot Button,” along with it’s slippery, come-hither lyrics is a particularly infectious track. “Believe Me I Believe” is a pretty fabulous blend of Sneaker Pimps and Lucious Jackson (have I mentioned that 90s feel?), and the title track “Felony Flats,” is absolutely excellent – simple, anthemic, gritty and haunting all at once.
On her website, Anya mentions that the stakes are high for Felony, as she has put “everything, personally, into it.” It was a risk well taken – an enjoyable listen, from a genuinely talented performer.