From the time that this North Carolina band starting making substantial worldwide noise in 2007, until now, Annuals has changed a lot about itself, all of it in the natural progression of the slippery line of creative progress. As a young band (or at least a younger band than it is now with the peach fuzz and new smell still there), it cut its figure as a vehicle for the severed, high wire downed in a pool of rain, bucking around like a sparking bull sound of the mayhem that lead singer Adam Baker fired out of his open mouth. It was emotional explosions peppering every second of the music, going from zero-to-60 in just seconds, springing like buck shot into faces and sounding as if the singer had many an issue to deal with as songs referenced sons and fathers and babies more than most songs would, leading to the power points.
It was a storm of acid rain that could be shouted back up to the heavens, returning it to where it had come from. It was a baring of teeth, though more than anything, it was - to a degree - a display of slashed up and scarred forearms. It was a healthier way of revealing that not everything was all quite mentally right. There was some wobbling and some blasting and the music took on some of the properties of when pandemonium starts helping a person or persons dress themselves and part their hair in the morning. Be He Me, the group's debut album was many things to many people and it was an exceptional way to start a resume, but Baker and the rest of the gang have gone into different dimensions on Such Fun and it's just as interesting to mill around in.
There's less of the boisterous, nervous energy, but more of uncertain next move and the uncertain conclusions in the lyrics that Baker has penned. There's a downtrodden man figuring into the words on the new album and it's a man who's living through the dramatic dismay toward the impertinence and insouciance of people and circumstances. There are countless "whys" and lights dimming on scenes, where the man that Baker is in these songs is trying to hold the curtains still open as well as giving the candles enough oxygen and wick to keep burning, to let the two people see each other clearly, without having to squint or think that they were alone in the room. It's the easiest way to forget and it could be the end of it all.
It seems that there's a considerable amount of rationalizing that never gets solved in this new batch of songs - which run the gambit from pedal-steeled country rollers to orchestral arrangements that are lush and sprawling and sometimes sound as if they were commissioned by George Michael or grander versions of Gerald Levert or Eddie Money. There are people holding on for dear life to other people, begging them not to go anywhere but here - even promising to turn off the tape machine if it will change their mind. Others wonder why they've been sunk into the dumps and what they did to deserve it. It's a very patchwork album that has influences from all over the place and then there's the control piece of Baker's slightly self-deprecating mood that pops out when the album's title is revealed, when he mentions that being cursed could be such fun. It's this curse that's we drink to and it's this curse that demands the most attention.
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