Monday, March 22, 2010

album review: Annuals - Sweet Sister EP

Sweet Sister EP
Banter, 2010

mp3: Annuals: "Loxstep"

Raleigh's Annuals are frustrating. I've never wanted to like a band more than this one probably, but no matter how many tries I give them, I can't quite like them. Their first album, Be He Me showed a lot of promise, but their follow-up Such Fun didn't generate the same following, turning more grand-pop-orchestral than indie-folk. Their songs are perfectly calculated. Precise, efficient...moving even. Sweet Sister does not seem as bombastic as Such Fun, but the backbone still maintains this grandiosity. In an indie world where everything seems scruffy, Annuals come off as smug.

The EP opens with some type of motor/air duct sound--a good lead in for something for rough and tumble. Instead "Loxstep" is again U2-lite meets even preppier Vamp Weekend pop. Their sounds, their instruments all sound "off-beat" so to speak, but does not quite resonate fully.

Which doesn't make sense. In all regards, with the increased interest in world & afro-pop & international sounds, Annuals should be full steam ahead. Instead, it's more of a dense, distracting, pretty smoke. Beauty really that doesn't quite connect.

I need more straight-ahead pop-folk-rock like "Flesh and Blood." The melody is simple, comprehensible with flourishes used in the right moments, not in the whole song, the formula that was so successful on
Be He Me. Maybe Annuals need a step back for a step forward.

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