Annabel / Dowsing - Split EP
Release Date: May 27, 2014
Record Label: Count Your Lucky Stars
Annabel and Dowsing are two of Count Your Lucky Stars Records’ more underappreciated acts. The former hit indie pop gold on 2012’s Youth In Youth, as fellow reviewer Kelly Doherty can attest, was a melodic slice of lo-fi emo but barely bent any ears, and the latter’s I Don’t Even Care Anymore went under the radar last year – how, I’m not sure, given its mellow, almost pop-punk leaning emo jams. Well, either way, both bands are back with this ten-minute split that gives both bands a time to shine.
Annabel opens things up with “Always,” building up slowly and steadily from the track’s opening seconds until about a minute in, when the song is overrun by a pummeling drum beat and hypnotic vocals. It could have fit easily alongside any track from Youth, and could appeal to even those who don’t typically enjoy the genre – it’s not unlikely that fans of early Weezer material will find something to love here. At the same time, its slowburning intro shows a restraint previously unseen in the band, and hints at perhaps a future release even better than their last. Their other offering, “Forever,” is a demo of Youth’s closing song, “Our Days Were Numbered.” While the finalized version of the track is a glorious, swelling, passionate song – the band’s masterpiece, at least for now (lol) – the demo is a scrappy punk rock track, unrecognizable save for the opening theme and lyrics. While “I wanna be with you forever” sounded like a heartfelt plea on “Our Days Were Numbered,” when placed against “Forever”’s harsh, pummeling snare hits and discordant riffs, it sounds more like a demand. The backing screams seem completely out of place, and the breakneck tempo hardly suits Annabel’s style.
For Dowsing’s end, things pick up more or less exactly where they left off. “Fistful of Hot Wheels,” the B-side opener, is a sub-two-minute example of the sound found on I Don’t Even Care Anymore (or on It’s Still Pretty Terrible, for that matter). But “World’s Finest Chocolate,” their second offering, takes the cake (lol “Chocolate” cake, eh?) on this split. Amidst the summery riffs you can hear Evan Weiss delivering some background vocals – a nice touch, given the similarity between his and Erik Czaja’s voices, especially as “Chocolate” finds Czaja bypassing singing. Instead, he opts for hoarse, strained shouting (it’s still recognizably him though, don’t worry). It’s not a sound anyone could’ve expected from Dowsing, but it’s a great sound nonetheless. It mixes infectiousness and roughness in a similar way to a You Blew It! song, and dwarfs nearly anything else they’ve recorded.
So while Annabel’s side may only be one for two, “Always” is an instant classic Annabel song, and points at greater things to come. Dowsing also shows promise, and dropped two of the better songs they’ve released. Hopefully the release of this split means the two are recording, because it certainly does its job well; I can’t wait to hear new material from either group, if it’s going to be as strong as the strength shown here.