Annuals fails to meld genres

Andy Lesser

In a bold attempt to blend porch-picking, fiddle-packed bluegrass with the distorted electronic sounds of modern indie rock, Annuals succeed, occasionally.

The six-piece from North Carolina sound like they tried too hard in making Such Fun, their sophomore album. The music sounds forced––songs like “Springtime” and “Always Do” futilely attempt to combine country and rock.

Annuals are at their best when they strip their music of any wish to do too many things at once and instead let the harmonized vocals and light instrumentals settle into one consistent theme. Too often did the band stumble between genres and styles––their sound lacks focus.

What the songs lack in focus they mostly make up for in quality, however. Annuals may have failed at combining different genres, but it was a decent effort nonetheless. A few songs suffer, but many toe-tapping beats and poignant melodies make the album listenable and even likable.

The opening track, “Confessor,” features extensively harmonized melodies and a catchy tune. Adam Baker’s wispy voice croons over dissident chords and a solid beat, much to the delight any listener, no matter which genre he/she listens to. It’s a shame the rest of Such Fun didn’t work as well as its introduction, but there were other moments of success.

“Eyes of Darkness,” for example, picks up the pace a bit with a frenzied drum-line while still allowing Baker to sing the way he’s best: relaxed. Sometimes, in an attempt to be emotional, the lead singer whines, even though his calm voice is poignant as it is.

Baker even yelps occasionally, when things get really hootin’ and hollerin’. I wouldn’t object if he did that on a country album, but such nonsense has no place in an otherwise successful work of indie rock.
Slide guitars and hoe-down quality fiddles make appearances throughout the album as well. The instruments might have added a nice touch had they not been so obviously out of place among the guitar’s distortion and synthesizer’s electronic noises.

Annuals stayed true to their southern roots in some ways by maintaining a country presence in the album, but they shouldn’t have tried to blend it with their already successful indie music.