Annabel – [EP]

Saturday, 12 March 2011

It's incredible how times and practices in pop and rock music have changed over the years, but it's also lamentable to see and hear an increasing abandonment of subtlety in the form. There was a time when many bands subscribed to the idea that the notes left un-played were as important as those included in a song. Some vacant spaces left in a song or a sparer air could cause a listener's own mind to fill in the gaps and the wildest imaginations could prove to be of wonderful help. That practice has fallen from favor recently though; it's common for a band to bulldoze its' way into a song, be as blunt as possible and then walk away from the wreckage. No quarter of such songs gets left to a listener's imagination – what they see (hear) on the surface is all there is.

So is subtlety becoming a lost art? It's possible but, happily, Annabel is still keeping it alive on Here We Are Tomorrow, the band's new EP on Tiny Engines.

From the cacophonous opening of “The Forgetting Of Names And Faces,” Annabel lays the difference between itself and most of the new breed of rock band on the line, while also taking care to point it out for listeners; where most new bands will ramjet their way into a listener's psyche by slapping them square in the face and then drag them through three and a half minutes of glossy cliches that play well but are totally two-dimensional, Annabel points to the impression of rock greatness and uses a textural backdrop behind Andy Hendricks' galloping drums to inspire some curiosity. Suddenly, listeners will feel compelled to dig into the spidery, grainy guitars supplied by Corey Willis, and singer/guitarist Ben Hendricks' layered vocals. These elements are not deliberately placed in the mix to draw attention to themselves, they are simply present for listeners to discover, love and take away as souvenirs; they're the same sorts of unassuming hooks that bands like Pavement and Dinosaur Jr. toyed with in the Nineties.

After that first barb is laid and has listeners' interest, it's in “Repetition, Et c.” where the band really gives listeners the spaces to inhabit.

Between the song's galloping drums, sonorous guitars and almost subliminal bass, Annabel concocts the biggest, most raucous song to come out of the underground since Steve Malkmus and Spiral Stairs unveiled “Elevate Me Later” and reminds listeners that alt-rock doesn't need something fans can sing along with to be huge, but includes one anyway just to be sure.

The thing that listeners won't be able to get over or get enough of in “Repetition, Et c.” is how Annabel manages to shape and mould seemingly incidental sounds into what feels like perfect and beautiful creations which would be unremarkable if even one piece of the puzzle were missing but, because the trend set forth by the first side of this seven-inch continues through Side B (“We Came As Today” is likely an incredibly loud song in a live setting but, here, there's a slippery and mercurial quality to it that is just captivating), as “Summer Health” finally fades the EP into oblivion, listeners will find themselves wishing there were more than just four songs in this run-time because there's no doubt that the sound presented could use some further investigation. That said, it almost seems like a foregone conclusion that Annabel will have a line-up of people ready for more when the band is able to produce their next full-length album.



The Here We Are Tomorrow
EP is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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