Annuals – Such Fun
Record Label: Canvasback
Release Date: October 7, 2008
Annuals seem to have lost no steam in keeping up with their two bands (this and the jazzier Sunfold) because Such Fun sounds like the work of a band who has all the time in the world. Continuing in the tradition of talented songwriting that never sounds overly show-offy, the group definitely has a soothing signature sound, even if it’s a bit quieter this time around. A little bit more patience is required this time around, but the title of the album definitely proves to be a true statement.
Right off the bat I noticed the lack of keyboard hooks which are really what defined Be He Me and made individual tracks stick out from that pseudo-concept album. There’s not a lot of keyboard this time – it seems to have been switched out for a fiddle, believe it or not – and the result is an album that plays more like an album than a bunch of random songs. I’ve got nothing against Be He Me’s sequencing, but you can definitely tell there were some different substances going on in these dude’s brains during the writing of particular tracks. Here it’s just a little more evened out.
Piano is still a major factor of course, and it’s used really well, even if it’s a lot tamer than what you may have become accustomed to (like “Carry Around” from the debut, etc.) There aren’t any random yelling fits this time around (same song), there are fewer random sounds, and everything’s pretty straight forward. Basically what this means is that my old comparison of “A much less fucked up Animal Collective” pretty much has gone out the window, but that’s okay because this newer, matured (behold, the cliché) Annuals is just as loveable.
Out of all the instruments sharing the mix (and there are plenty), it’s Adam Baker’s excellent voice that perfects songs like “Springtime.” The fact that this guy runs a music theory school should not surprise anybody – these songs are orchestrated like crazy, to the point were repeat listens reveal additional surprises, like a bell melody somewhere in the background, etc. As before, Annuals have influences coming from every direction that keep the music interesting. They even successfully incorporate country into “Down the Mountain” and “Always Do,” the latter of which could almost be an Iron & Wine tune with its way-depressing pedal steel solos.
Songs like “Hair Don’t Grow” revolve around rhythm like last album – this one’s like a Tom Waits collaboration, but, you know, catchy. The album closes with what is arguably its best song, “Wake”, leaving the listener to reflect on these last tranquil 41 minutes. There’s just something about this music that takes you away to another place. With every powerful guitar line, every memorable vocal, and every other wacky thing going on in between, it really is the kind of music that stops a conversation and puts friends into a meaningful silence.
I’d been totally anticipating this album, and I was not at all let down. It’s about time people started paying attention to these guys. Between an excellent live show and two brilliant studio albums in their young career, it seems like there’s little that they can’t pull off.
Don’t Believe Me? www.myspace.com/annuals www.myspace.com/sunfold
Recommended If You Like: Sunfold, Annuals’ Be He Me, Brian Wilson
i totally agree that these songs sound pretty Sunfold-y
And that's not a bad thing at all. I think that Sunfold record is absolutely incredible.
This album still sounds like Annuals, but it's amazing how much they've matured and really come into their own. I have been following them since the beginning, back when Sedona (now Sunfold) was the original project (and an experimental hardcore-ish band) and Annuals was the side project. And when Adam, Kenny and Mike were in a pop-punk band.