Liza Anne: Bad Vacation [Album Review]

Liza Anne
Bad Vacation
Arts & Crafts [2020]

Georgia-based, indie rocker Liza Anne returns with her fourth album of smart pop-craft, with plenty of 80’s new wave, pop/punk and rock influences on display. Past efforts have dealt with mental health issues head on in songs like “Panic Attack” and “Paranoia,” and here she describes the inner dialogue of a self-conscious person who admits, “I can’t keep going on like this/gonna drive away all my friends,” in the song with the telling title, “I Shouldn’t Ghost My Therapist.” In “Terrible Discovery,” she acknowledges that she can be her own worst enemy: “Oh, what a terrible discovery/oh, that the worst one for me is me/she’s in my head and in my bed/and everybody sees/that I can’t get away from me.”

All this mental naval gazing could be a real downer, but Liza Anne has worked with her band to craft fun, punchy pop songs that give these “pretty grim” situations a musical context that turns that frown upside down. “Change My Mind” may describe two people struggling who have “dug our heels into the ground again,” but the fight plays out against power pop guitar chords and plenty of cowbell. Liza Anne may “get off on all her Bummer Days,” but she makes that point in a catchy melody that is sure to have her fans singing along on lines like “I’ll stop crying at my party/I’m tired of feeling sorry,” in an irresistible rock hook.

There’s a real economy in her songs, not a lot of filler, but on the title track she locks into fun new wave dance pop hooks, with cool synths and crisp electronic clap beats, and guitars that recalls The Cars. Elsewhere Liza Anne and her supportive players and co-producers Mikah Tawlks, Kyle Ryan, Justin Meldal-Johnson, find creative ways to balance her introspective lyrics with eclectic pop/rock settings that emphasize her playful vocal delivery. Accessible, finely crafted pop this smart deserves a hearing.

Key Tracks: “Bad Vacation” / “Terrible Discovery” / “Change My Mind”

Artists With Similar Fire: Liz Phair / St. Vincent / Talking Heads

Liza Anne Website
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Arts & Crafts

-Reviewed by Brian Q. Newcomb

Brian Q. Newcomb

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