Indie-Pop Excellence, Bubbly and Believable

You know that feel-goody summer pop album you love to listen to over and over and over again? Maybe something along the lines of The Soft Bulletin or even Smile? Usually it's something that has an element of wispiness, something airy and hooky that seems to scream out, "Love the one you're with." Raleigh, North Carolina's Annuals add to the canon with the slightly schizophrenic Be He Me. Some song arrangements have a large, orchestrated feel to them—like the Arcade Fiery "Dry Clothes"—but they gradually trade up immediate one-two pop punches for a more brooding, drawn-out approach, such as on the piano-driven "Father." At times this sounds a bit like what Bright Eyes has done over the past few years: extended numbers with appropriate screams at the appropriate times to convince us that this is important. But Annuals frontman Adam Baker is rather persuasive in his own way—his tales of failed love and bumblebees and turtle-collecting with his brother are genuine-sounding, making Be He Me a believable, exuberant indie-pop debut.

 
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