Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Review: Annuals - Such Fun (* * * *)

You might have noticed the cover art of Annuals new album Such Fun is by none other than Bob Ross, the late painting-made-easy guru famous for his perm-fro hair and "happy trees" artistic style. When asked about the connection, Annuals had the following to say:

"The way that Bob made his paintings, and the way he paints in particular, is pretty similar to the way that our band makes a record," the band explained. "Bob Ross starts his paintings with simple little smudges and blotches, making 'happy trees' or 'cute little bridges.' But when it’s finished, and his blotches take form, we see that his paintings are actually intricate landscapes."

While most bands would probably prefer to associate themselves with artists of greater depth and more intricate style, Annuals seem to find something profound in the simplicity of Ross' art. However, simple isn't a word I would use to describe much of their sophomore effort, a wide range of musical styles and complex arrangements supporting the beautiful melodies of singer Adam Baker's crystal clear tenor voice.

Perhaps the idea of simplicity can be linked to Annuals ability to make covering such a broad spectrum of musical ideas with such seaming ease and abundant talent. Throughout Such Fun, the band enhance familiar elements of folk and Americana music with a variety of unique and fascinating flourishes. The beautiful piano on "Springtime," the flowery string arrangements on "Blue Ridge" and the twang-meets-punk of "Down The Mountain" are just a few examples. The music swells from soft, gentle melodies into anthematic rock tunes and back again, often in the same song. It's always interesting and often fantastic.

Annuals occasionally overdo it, attempting to squeeze too many large ideas into small spaces, but Such Fun is a refreshing and, indeed fun, set of 11 tracks that seeks to both surprise and please, and succeeds in both.

Favorite Tracks: "Hardwood Floor," "Springtime," "Down The Mountain"

Get the single and watch the video of the lead single "Confessor" a few posts down!