Youth In Youth

Written by: TL on 13/04/2013 12:04:14

I wasn't aware when I picked their album for release, but PP and DR have apparently already taken turns at describing the sound of Ohio quartet Annabel's past releases. I signed up to check out their 2012 effort "Youth In Youth" simply after checking out a few seconds of it, thinking it sounded cool yet knowing nothing of the band. And since then, long story short, I've developed quite the little crush on it. Opening barn-stormer "Young American" has a lot to do with that, with marching drums and a celebratory guitar-riff conjuring up mental images of fireworks and parades before hazy, retro emo vocals come in and strike a beautiful contrast to the soaring instrumentals, evoking lyrics dealing with the confusion of young adulthood.

It's a brilliant opening song, that bears a good deal of repeat plays before you'll even feel like you're ready to depart for the remaining album, and it's also a telling track about what's in store. The vocals betray that Midwestern emo is inescapably in Annabel's DNA, tying them firmly to references like Sunny Day Real Estate and Joie De Vivre, yet the instrumentals flash an early ambition to make Annabel more than 'just another emo revivalist band'. The diverse drumming and subtle flirtations with guitar techniques from nearby, oft-related genres like post-rock and math-rock simply come together in a much tighter songwriting than what I'm used to with bands like this. The following tracks "The Age Of Possibilities" and "Anti-Decisions" support as much, with each offering their own catchy melodies and refrains to draw the listener's attention, whether it be for instance "I'd like a way, to keep myself from thinking, that everything is connected" of the former or the "It's hard to not be surprised, when your decisions turn out alright" of the latter.

After an up-beat beginning to the record, "Theme From "Home"" and "Home" break things down to a mellower pace at central tracks five and six, dreaming up a sleepy, suburban mood that is as endearing as anything that's gone before. Moving on, "The Dept. Of Mutual Appreciation" gets me thinking of By Surprise, while the subdued opening guitars of "At Least For Now" reminds me of The Jealous Sound. Admittedly though, the songs here have not made quite the same impression on me that their earlier counterparts did, yet the album rallies in time for a proper emo closer, with the slow and repetitive "Our Days Were Numbered" channeling all the sentimentality of bands like Mineral, Jimmy Eat World and Kid Brother Collective in a manner that it's hard not to pay attention to.

Overall, what I really like about "Youth In Youth" is that it has its clear ties to the whole midwest emo revivalism, yet it hurdles many of the drawbacks you find in similar albums: The vocals have character here and the lyrics are both clearly enunciated, coherent and relatable, while the instrumentals traverse different enough corners of the genre, to keep the songs from blending together much. And that's what I've been missing from the contemporaries, yet seem to find in Annabel: The desire to build a personality and to write songs that are more than just tributes to a genre that otherwise seems to have come to a standstill.


Download: Young American, The Age Of Possibilities, Anti-Decisions, Our Days Were Numbered
For The Fans Of: Sunny Day Real Estate, Everyone Everywhere, Joie De Vivre, By Surprise, Brave Bird

Release Date 24.11.2012
Count Your Lucky Stars

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