Annabel - Now That We're Alive (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Now That We're Alive (2007)


Emo-tinged indie rock isn't exactly a strong suit of yours truly (and I'm certain this review will reflect that), but Annabel's latest EP, Now That We're Alive is an enjoyable sampling of it, despite some conventional sounds and themes.

The first impression upon hearing opener "Parade Rest" is how strong the production is. Every instrument here is clearly audible, but there's no superficial layer of glean over everything that would undoubtedly make the songs sound too polished. The production enhances the already warm sound of each instrument, including some downright passionate vocals surrounded by crashing drums, twinkling guitars and a powerful bass that oddly, seamlessly fits in. The a capella ending to the song feels a little drawn out, but not enough to ruin the song completely.

Annabel gets atmospheric on "Castles in the Air," with a spaced-out guitar sound reminiscent of early Jimmy Eat World. Rolling drums kick in halfway through, leading to what most would believe to be a huge, rocking payoff, but unfortunately the result is a tad underwhelming. The higher-pitched background vocals in the chorus are a nice touch, however. "Boquet Mines" has a real Britpop vibe going on, with some dynamic drumming and "ooh"s akin to something you'd hear from a band like Bloc Party. There's a certain earnesty behind the vocal approach here, though, which makes the song slightly more enjoyable than the description might sound.

"...And Elsewhere" showcases Annabel's more subdued side, and the results here are pretty strong. The quieter vocals mesh well with the softly galloping drums, and the simple keyboard part employed here really carries the song. Some "ahh"s are added for dramatic effect, and there's a solid guitar part that wraps up the song quite nicely.

Now That We're Alive comes to a close with "If The Accident Will," and it's exactly what a closer for this type of music should be -- ambitious, intense, and vast. The band utilizes a lot of group vocals here to great effect and the rhythm section is positively heavy, the drums crashing and the bass thundering. There's a 40-second fadeout to end the song and record that's, well, a tad long, but it hardly leaves behind a sour aftertaste.

I'd be lying if I told you this EP would get a ton of repeat listens from me, but it definitely ain't bad for what it is. If Annabel sticks around and churns out a full-length, I'll keep an open ear for it.