As good as Be He Me is, it doesn’t quite do justice to the pure size of Annuals sound. But on the Wet Zoo EP, the production is much brighter and more polished, and the band doesn’t lose any energy in the sheen. “Sore” shows their ability to build a song in degrees from small acoustic number to giant arena-sized rock song. “Around Your Neck” is a foot-stomping number, maybe the fastest they’re recorded yet, and it sets up nicely the muted sounds of “Just Stay In”. Particularly striking is how singer Adam Baker emerges as more of a band leader on the EP. His vocals are high in the mix, and he has all the built-in charm of a front man. Annuals sound less like a collective here, and more like Baker’s band. In three songs, the band puts all their strengths on display and shows that, in spite of indie aesthetics, bigger and brighter production is sometimes the answer. Sunfold is the band’s side project, which just shuffles the line-up around and puts guitarist Kenny Florence in the lead singer/songwriter spot. Their two songs are solid, but more straightforward power than the Annuals stuff. The elements are catchy, but a little simple. The Sunfold sound is nice, but they sound like a project that is still figuring itself out. Taken as a whole, the EP is a well-executed but a slight release. If it is meant to stand on its own, it falls a bit short of the mark. But if it is meant to build some buzz for the next Annuals full-length, then Wet Zoo is a total success.
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// Notes from the Road
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