Portland based Aan, made up of Bud Wilson and a rotating cast of musicians (currently Travis Liepzig, Andy Lawson, Dana Valatka and Eddie Bond), are on their third album in 10 years. Dada Distractions (2016) took note from psychedelic garage-rock with mild sludge and a mournful undertone. Their newest album, Losing My Shadow, (featuring Cameron Spies, Travis Leipzig, and Dana Valatka alongsize Wilson) appears to be a sunnier endeavor, one that could be interpreted as pop as it shuffles super clean falsetto hooks and immaculate vocal tones, crafting a sharp catchy abstraction. This time around, there’s an immediate gratification by placing that proximal cleanliness with psychedelic abstraction (think wah-wahs and echo-effects). Deftly detailed in production and mixing, Aan’s newest album presents itself as a piece of aural craft.
The titular title track “Losing My Shadow” denotes in-studio strengths with two distinct parts. The five-plus minute trip starts with an astral synth, disorienting between the right and left channels as Wilson joins in singing, “As time fell flat I crept in decay/I was lost in the haze/my days drifted away,” accompanied by a galloping snare drum and pulsing bass. Each instrument stays discernable and crystalline in the swirling, even around the three and a half minute mark, when the tempo drops, drums start to lag, and the bass frays. Here, the song sublimates into an outline of its initial sound.
“Falling” washes listeners away with Wilson’s ascending vocals, layered over themselves and fading out, fighting for attention. Barely discernible, the focus piques up to the chorus, where vocals break through to the hook in a moment of clarity: “I get the feeling that I am falling”. “Born A Sucker” stands out in energy (“I know you love me but you’re only going to hold me back”) powered by an unassuming guitar jerk that once moves forward into “I Don’t Want to Be Alone,” which is packed with vulnerable lull and lyrics (“It’s like out of thin air/ I’m erased and no one’s there”), both being bolstered higher in their respected sentiments.
Equalizing an album’s catchiness with depth is rare: “Mistakes” prescribes “Don’t ever lose your glow.” And that might just be a mantra.