The Anniversary - Designing a Nervous Breakdown (Cover Artwork)

The Anniversary

Designing a Nervous Breakdown (2000)

Vagrant / Heroes and Villains

It's one of those lazy Sundays. Joe college student gets up in the afternoon to catch some breakfast down in the cafeteria. Slipping on some flip flops, Joe college student heads downstairs to where they keep the grub. There, he notices his girlfriend, looking very eager to see Joe college student.

"Hi," Joe college student says with a wry smile.

His girlfriend looks at him, as if he is supposed to say more.

"What?" Joe replies quizzically, very used to the endless mind games of the other sex.

"Did you forget?!" she exclaims.

Joe college student, in an attempt to save himself from estrogen fueled wraith, says "No," and moves over to where the cereal is.

His girlfriend quickly grabs him and shouts, "It's our anniversary!"

"Of what?" Joe college student replies.

"Uh, hello. Our one month anniversary! Come on, now!"

"Is that even celebrated?" Joe college student replies.

Before we delve deeper into Joe's problem here, let's take a look back at the romance that lead to this anniversary confrontation. Their romance had been filled with love filled poetry towards the opposite sex and romantic themes of running away and not letting distance divide them. Also, their romance contained the catchiest fucking moog riffs and bouncy jingles ever heard (like a Reggie and the Full Effect you can take seriously).

Okay, before this analogy gets too far out of control and incomprehensible, let's just move on to say that The Anniversary (the band, now) is what keyboard driven power pop groups strive to be. They veer wildly through the streets of musical genres, coming close to, but never crashing into, emo, indie rock, and 80's synth pop.

Summer is starting again, and it is time for my yearly pre-summer anniversary...and that is busting out "Designing a Nervous Breakdown" by The Anniversary. This album, straight down to its packaging, is what summer is all about. Listening to this album in the sweet summer sunset as you drive around town is basically what this album was made for. It opens with a the happily menacing "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter", and basically keeps up the same theme throughout the record. The lyrics are well written and nicely fit into the songs -- nothing too quotable, but nice enough. The main feature on all of these songs is the interplay between the guitars and keyboard, and vocal arrangement of singers Josh Berwanger and Justin Roelofs (the boyishly monotone ones) and Adrianne Verhoven (the almost melodically adept girl one).

They would go on to become "deeper" and drop the whole synth rock deal, deciding to instead head in the direction of 60's and 70's pop ditties, which was still a nice sound, but could never add up to the fun of this album. Sure, when I'm older and more mature I probably won't see this ever again. But hell I'm still a kid (well, not legally, but in spirit) and this is the album I want to listen to in the summer. If you're looking for a summer-defining thing to listen to, this is a good place to start.

Sure, The Anniversary had their conflicts with Vagrant records -- which will probably be rabidly discussed in the comments section, and be ultimately used as some sort of bias against the band -- and the keyboardist did marry a Get Up Kid -- again, to be discussed below--, but, much like Joe college student and his girlfriend are soon to be, this band broke up. They went on to their various other projects, leaving us this delicious morsel of summery goodness. Rock it out.

Also, if you listen real close to the beginning of "Till We Earned a Holiday" is sounds like the Reading Rainbow theme. Nice.