Review: Annabel - Now That We're Alive
Released: Summer 2008
My wife is a great cook. When she makes something, it tastes great, but it also looks great. She tells me that the appearance is important, that the appearance shows that she cares about what she's prepared for us to eat. I may never have thought of that had she not brought it to my attention. I'm too busy stuffing myself with Hippy Burritos to notice, so she doesn't do it to entice me to eat, she does it because she cares about what she's doing.
What does this have to do with record reviews, you ask? Everything if the record is Annabel's Now That We're Alive. You see, before even playing the album, it's clear that they care about what they've done. The CD and card come in a handmade cloth pouch. When was the last time you got a CD in something like that? Probably never, because you just don't come across that many bands who care that deeply for what they've produced and choose to honor their work in a similar fashion. So, before even listening, I'm already impressed.
Of course, the album (like the burritos) has to have more than just a nice exterior or the appearance, no matter how much care went into it, is meaningless. So the question still remains: How is the music?
Annabel play a low-key indie rock that combines hints of both noise and twee pop. The jangley guitars and throbbing bass line of the opening track are instantly engaging, but that does nothing to prepare your ears for "Castles in the Air," a more understated twee-oriented song whose sublime pop sense would make Brian Wilson jealous. They push the pop envelope even further on "Bouquet Mines" whose Woo-ooo's layer pre-Bealtes AM pop over angular rhythms. It says a lot about those two tracks that the Casiotone pop of "...And Elsewhere," which is nearly on par with the Postal Service, is actually a bit of a let down. While the album finishes, as it began, on an edgier note, it's the pair of songs in the middle that make it.
So, like one of my wife's meals, Annabel not only shows that they care enough about their music to wrap it up in a unique and personal package, but that the music itself is worthy of that honor. Better yet, it's great in a way that's almost impossible to pinpoint, so don't bother thinking, just let the pop wash over you.
If you're curious about my rating categories, read the description.
Contact me if you want the recipe. They're seriously good.