A meteoric rise to fame is not always the result of great untapped talent being discovered. Sometimes it is all hype (Nizlopi, anyone), but sometimes it is simply not easy to decide whether a band is as good as the record companies would have you believe.
North-Carolina six-piece Annuals fall into the latter category. Having been compared to bands as diverse as Mercury Rev, The Flaming Lips and The Beach Boys, their debut album Be He Me cannot be described as uninteresting. However, despite the occasional flashes of brilliance it seems as if something is missing.
Of course we should not ignore the youth of the band. No member is over the age of 22, and this is easy to forget when listening to the exquisite, slowly building opening track Brother, which has echoes of early Biffy Clyro or a more subdued version of Arcade Fire.
Many of the efforts on this recording are both breathtakingly melodic and lyrically intriguing, with song-titles such as Brother, Mama and Father suggesting that singer-songwriter Adam Baker often draws from personal experience. Unfortunately, though, Annuals’ unique mysticism fails to take shape until partway through many of the songs. Consequently, the heartfelt vocals in the likes of Fair fail to prevent listeners from getting lost in Baker’s labyrinthine musical constructions. At best Annuals are very impressive but at worst they echo the more forgettable offerings from Guillemots’ comparable album Through the Windowpane.
While we cannot claim that Be He Me lacks ambition, the lack of any real cohesion suggests that Annuals might be better off simply trying to make their mark in the music world, rather than trying to run before they can walk.