Music
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Annuals

Wet Zoo

(Ace Fu; US: 1 Apr 2008; UK: Available as import)

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.

Rating:

Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.


Tagged as: annuals
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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.
30 Mar 2010
Billed as a move back to an indie label and a “return to form” following their sophomore slump, this five-track EP aims itself squarely between Annuals' two full-lengths, yet it still doesn't find the correct balance.
12 Oct 2008
The polished follow-up to 2006's Be He Me is a case of one step forward, two steps back.
12 Nov 2006
At best an ambitious amalgamation of impeccably curated influences, Annuals' debut fails to endear or distinguish itself.
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