REVIEW: Annuals – Be He Me (2006)

Be He MeThe musical menu offered up by Annuals on their debut album is ambitious, diverse and satisfyingly comprehensive. Not concerned with restricting themselves to tried and tested musical genre rules, their sound encompasses a range of styles such as pop, rock, epic folk, electronic and experimental. Annuals ability to incorporate musical diversity with ease, has created a broad smorgasbord of music which is very pleasing to the palate.

Opening with the delicate and deliberate folksy sound of ‘Brother’ with its classical undertones, listeners may find themselves wanting to classify this CD somewhere between folk or alternative rock, but with Annuals prepare for the unexpected. Part way through this track the tempo is upped and the sound intensifies with a heavier and harder rock feel. ‘Brother’ clearly demonstrates Annuals clever ability to blend different musical styles in defiance of clear musical classification. Moving then to the Beatlesque pop melody of ‘Dry Clothes’, once again just when you think you know where the song is heading it changes course and rises to another level with its uniquely layered sound.

‘Complete or Completing’ further pushes the boundaries of sweet pop melodies, starting out with a delicate vocal performance it moves towards a rougher edged chorus. This track has a more languorous and relaxed feeling, as if it is not in a hurry to get to where it is going. For this and most of the tracks listeners should be less concerned with where the musical journey is taking them and instead have confidence that the ride itself will be a fascinating experience. ‘Carry Around’ incorporates spoken background lyrics and a jaunty melody with an incredibly catchy chorus. The complex sound of this track is delivered with seeming simplicity and the vocal performance of lead singer Adam Baker is impressively smooth, matching perfectly with the wistful poetic lyrics.

While echoes of artists which influence Annuals can be discerned throughout the album the end result is all their own, with a style and sound that cannot be replicated. Their entirely original blending of styles and intriguing lyrics are not unique for the sake of being unique, this is genuinely grounded music delivered with heart, and there is real meaning in their words and real emotion conveyed in the dramatic delivery.

Listening to this album it is hard to believe that such an assured and absorbing debut has come from a band whose members are not far into their twenties. Despite their young age Annuals sound like seasoned performers with the confidence to trust in their innate musical talent and simply create excellent music. Annuals have created their own well-rounded family of six individual and eclectic musicians who have come together to create an otherworldly and captivating ensemble of sounds. If this is the type of music which Annuals will continue to offer on the menu, then take my order for seconds please!

I originally wrote this article for ‘The Dwarf‘.