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Annuals

Sweet Sister

(Banter; US: 30 Mar 2010; UK: 12 Apr 2010)

Annuals’ glorious 2006 debut, Be He Me, gave audiences high on Animal Collective’s Feels another huff of colorful energy, but the one criticism consistently leveled at it was that it had too many ideas running amok. As if by a reflex, the young six-piece from North Carolina trucked to Sony and released Such Fun, their fully realized sophomore slump. Sweet Sister is yet another response to the critics; billed as a move back to an indie label (Banter, in this case) and a “return to form,” this five-track EP aims itself squarely between the two full-lengths, yet it still doesn’t find the correct balance.


It’s Be He Me in mindset, to an extent, but it’s all Such Fun in execution. “Loxtep”’s blipping tunefulness and alternations from chipper to muscular would have been more satisfying if the song didn’t sound like it was written on a computer. You don’t sense that there’s much of a band behind this, especially on “Turncloaking” and “Holler and Howl”, Bisquick-y filler between the disc’s more memorable moments. The title track has a nice country-calypso vibe, with a fluid rhythm section and a chorus of “oh”s and “ah”s that’s beautifully produced. “Flesh and Blood” is as close in flavor (if not in meter) to the near-public domain “There’s a Hole in the Bucket” as it is to the Johnny Cash original, suitable for a children’s video about the Old West. How strange that even in their efforts to free the beast a little, Annuals have become one of the tamest bands around. Should their next full-length follow suit, okay, but they really can’t afford another flop. Somewhere, the Tasmanian devil inside singer/composer Adam Baker is chomping at the bit—let’s wheel that sucker out, shall we?

Rating:

Mike has been a staff writer at PopMatters since 2009. He began writing music reviews for his college paper in 2005, where he cut his teeth as an arts editor and weekly columnist. He graduated from Vassar in 2008 and is pursuing a doctoral degree in clinical psychology. He is currently writing his dissertation on the role of rejection sensitivity in online infidelity, and lives with his incredible girlfriend in a wonderful shoebox apartment in Washington, DC.


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9 Sep 2010
As for the actual music, the worst thing you can say is that it's almost too perfect.
12 Oct 2008
The polished follow-up to 2006's Be He Me is a case of one step forward, two steps back.
13 May 2008
Annuals match big production with their big sound, improving on their already impressive talents.
12 Nov 2006
At best an ambitious amalgamation of impeccably curated influences, Annuals' debut fails to endear or distinguish itself.
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