A penchant for aural experimentation by way of eclectic arrangements and ping-ponging sonic identities make North Carolina indie sextet Annuals’ sophomore full-length, Such Fun exactly what the title implies. The album is an entertaining romp filtered through frontman Adam Baker’s unique inner ear and fastened together by the group’s fiercely calculated execution and Baker’s own elastic voice.
“Confessor” kicks off the disc with a high note, plunging into an inventive meter and inversing the usual guitar-drums-bass alt-rock structured attack by busying the verses with flitting acoustic guitars and then letting the vocal harmonies breath during the open-air chorus. “Hot Night Hounds” perfectly evolves the album’s sound, introducing a lone keyboard before bombarding the swaying melody with clicking hand percussion, sliced vocal samples and wish-washing ambient sounds. The whole combustible combination culminates in a slow-build toward a classic rock distorted guitar riff, almost as if to say that all the bells-and-whistles (literal and figurative) are only here to support the core essence: Annuals’ driving desire to rock out.
Baker and company also deliver the kind of upbeat, melancholy that Elton John made a killing off. “The Tape” and “Springtime” lock into piano-driven narratives, dipping close to melodrama, but never allowing their emotional pull to feel forced. Spasms of sustained violins, lonely whistles and skittering beach rock backing vocals swell like breaking waves on “Wake” and “Down The Mountain” finds Annuals playfully stepping into country-western boats, if only for a moment before skidding into an emo-style chant-along chorus. Such Fun is a great chance to explore an inventive, endlessly entertaining band that is just beginning to fin its voice.
Favorite Track: “Hot Night Hounds”
Reviewer Bio - Christopher j Ewing is a writer and filmmaker living in Los Angeles with a girl and a designer dog. He is in a band by himself, has a myspace account at www.myspace.com/wastedpotentialproduction and a production company at (www.wastedpotentialproductions.com) for freelance film, video and journalism work.