Review: Annabel- Having It All (Tiny Engines)

Posted: July 17, 2015 in Reviews

Having It All cover art

There is a complexity and density to Annabel’s sound on their 3rd full length Having It All, which manages to contrast well with the earnestness and straightforwardness of their lyrics. As with other contemporary Midwestern emo bands, Annabel offer a sound which is layered, passionate and full of jangly guitars and whiny vocals. The band alternates between explosive, high energy emotional indie rock, such as on album highlight “Having It All” or “Everything”, and slower, ballad-y, introspective acoustic numbers, like with the haunting “Days in Between” or “Years and Years”. Such diversity keeps Having It All interesting throughout and allows a decent vocal range. 5 minute long album closer “Nothing Gets Away” pulls everything together and works as a one-off ‘epic’ moment.

So far, so typical Midwestern emo? Yes, and no. For one thing, I think Annabel are much better than 90% of their contemporaries doing this sound; they are generally more cohesive, intricate, diverse and, well, interesting. For another thing, the lyrics are really refreshing. Compared to the density and opaqueness of poetic, traditional emo, Annabel are raw, earnest and sort-of confessional in their approach. They put their raw emotions on the line throughout and offer something different as a result. The most hard-hitting, personally, was an insight into sentimental nostalgia on “Days In Between”: “It’s always fun while it lasts/ But there’s not always a next time”, followed by a frank “I miss everything”. But it’s not all emo gloom, and later in the record, Annabel dissect self-improvement on the fantastic “Ex-Introvert”: “I might discover a new side of me/ Think I might be starting to be who I’ve always hoped to be”. These are just a couple of examples of what is a dense, emotional examination of Annabel’s hopes, fears, doubts. It takes a little while to dig beneath the surface of the complexity of Having It All, but it is well worth it when you get there.

DB

Listen here: https://annabel.bandcamp.com/album/having-it-all

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