Written by T.J. McGlinchey
Philly native / L.A. transplant, Vita and the Woolf, a.k.a. Jen Pague et al put their best foot forward on their third full-length album Anna Ohio, due out today. Their latest effort is an ongoing evolution that began on 2014’s guitar-heavy basement demo Fang Song and continued to grow on 2017’s Tunnels. For 2020’s Anna Ohio it seems Vita and the Woolf have fully embraced their pop tendencies with strong hooks and elaborate production value. Pague took on the character of the fictitious Anna Ohio through which she concluded that a “dreamlike examination of life under late-stage capitalism (“Home”, “Auntie Anne’s Waitress”) and desire for escape (“Operator”) are somehow more real than reality.”
On “Mess Up,” the first single off the album, they pull out all the stops production-wise for the track and a video portraying an actress stumbling/dancing around a small, smoky apartment. This track is gigantic. The production is full-on Hollywood/West Coast pop. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear this one absolutely everywhere in a few months. The second single, “Operator,” has a nice, mid-tempo backbeat, and is accompanied by lyrical gems such as “You have a time machine in the basement and the only time we get to operate it is when we’re drunk and stoned in the basement when our bodies are cold.” The video shows Pague and a friend wandering the desert in astronaut suits.
Out of the gate, the opening track “Out of State” has a synth-y Beach Boys vibe. On “Confetti” the singer regrets “Did I really think cocaine would line the streets and mountaintops?” Track three, “Home,” leans into the dance-club vibe with a Katy Perry-esque beat. “Kentucky” falls back to folk roots with plucked bass and a haunting falsetto melody. “Feet” has a great beat and features the singer pining for her the “campground back home” over a huge bassline. “Machine” features a disco-esque backbeat, big chorus, and has a bit of a Lady Gaga vibe. “Auntie Anne’ Waitress” surprises the listener with a sexy R&B-like beat that will make your head nod immediately. The closing track, Paris, finished the album with more sexy funk and fabulous falsetto vocals.
While they may miss the east coast, and surely Philly misses them, L.A. has clearly had an effect on this group. Dare I say, the move has had a great and positive influence on the writing and production of this latest album. This is their best work to date. I look forward to hearing “Mess Up” in every waiting room, gas station, and Starbucks bathroom once the lockdown is over. It’s gonna be a hit.