The members of Annuals are all, like this reviewer, in their early 20s, and it’s quite apparent that we were listening to the same things as teenagers. They don’t just wear their influences on their sleeves—instead, their songs seem more like a patchwork of instantly recognizable styles and sounds, and Such Fun somehow manages to sound like the mutant chimeric offspring of every subgenre of indie rock from 1998 to 2004. There are blatant moments of everything from Wilco to the Books to Ryan Adams to Mew to Hot Hot Heat to Neutral Milk Hotel and even Dashboard Confessional; palm-muted power chords show up in the same songs as weird trumpet solos, post-rocky instrumental breaks and whispery male-female harmonies, while lead singer Adam Baker’s occasional off-key yelp somehow pairs with alt-country twang, bongos and driving pop-rock piano. Distracting as all this blatant genre-collaging could be, it somehow works; Such Fun manages to transcend many of its ugly-duckling, guilty-pleasure influences, and in today’s zeitgeist seems something like a contemporary mash-up album of college radio favorites from the last days before iTunes. While the album at times devolves into cutesy gimmicks (the near-nauseating “Blue Ridge” features Baker baby-talking over a crying infant and cinematic violins), the band’s sunny and melodic exuberance ensures that Such Fun is, above all else, a lot of fun.
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