Check me, erm, bitches. After having read Next Big Thing pointers pretty much everywhere for the last few weeks, Annuals are looking to be the next internet sensation. They’ve had more than favourable reviews in more than a few favourable places, and are receiving enough hype to comfortably be the next quiet sensation. I even found them in NME this afternoon (not to say I read NME. After all, I’m 25. I was using it as cover while I tried not to do work and catch the eye of the hot librarian). Pumped by my new-found pulse-locating-finger, I went out and bought a bag designed for free runners. I am so NOW it hurts. Or at least I was. Mini-mid-life crisis averted, I’m sitting in bed with some fruit tea.
Annuals’ Myspace page was recommended to me via a web forum I frequent. The first track I listened to was ‘Brother’. That afternoon I left a trail of purple prose across friends’ pages imploring them to check out the band. ‘Brother’ is immense. Like a prog-rock Polyphonic Spree; all lovely and epic at the same time. I won’t sell Annuals short by suggesting the album fades out after that, but it certainly shifts down a gear, at least in terms of dramatic volume.
There are still lots of pastoral folky-dreamyness to enjoy though. And to be honest, the people who I’d recommended them to are probably more likely to be interested in the sea-shanty conclusion to ‘Dry Clothes’ or the coconut-horse noises of ‘Competition, or Completing’ than they were with the crescendo of ‘Brother’. There are elements throughout of Arcade Fire, Mercury Rev and Flaming Lips as well as the semi-lysergic world of Super Furry Animals. Songs move through the world with a childlike innocence and the subtlest of knowing winks which opens up a world of magic. There are moments when what you thought was a backing track swells to some atavistic higher power. And it’s moments like these that bring to mind Polyphonic Spree’s gentle rhapsody, informed by Jane’s Addiction’s powerful primitive spirituality. Which in turn reminds you that there are nicer things than being hip; nicer things than free running; nicer things than NME (many many nicer things). It’s at moments like these when you realise that primitive cultures thought of shape sifting as the highest form of magic. And it’s this trick that Annuals achieve consistently.