Free and legal MP3: Annuals (intricate, satisfying, melodic)

“Confessor” – Annuals

Annuals prove yet again their capacity for producing intricate pop songs that defy standard structures while still offering catchy refrains and a satisfying sense of firm ground. “Confessor” develops upon two disparate rhythmic conceits: a stuttering, almost syncopated rhythm, which we hear for the first 26 seconds or so, accompanied by a melody featuring small intervals and drawn-out syllables; and a smoother, swaying beat, which you’ll hear for roughly the next 26 seconds. That second part features full-bodied vocal harmonies, a distinctive string section, and the song’s most prominent and inviting hook, starting around 0:30, which is the melody associated with the words “Through the windows in the chapel.” So the song’s a half-minute old, we’ve already experienced a how’d-that-happen? musical shift, and have come to a wonderful, old friend of a hook without quite knowing where we even are–verse? chorus? some mysterious other thing?

The somewhat XTC-like journey we’re on continues as the syncopation returns, the background music swells, and then–neat trick, around 1:21–we get the melodic hook overlaid onto the syncopated beat, aided and abetted by tight harmonies and a concise instrumental accompaniment, which feels full but not overcrowded. I like, after this, the swirling, climaxing instrumental section, and how it all but crashes ashore, wave-like, receding before the triumphant return of the “windows in the chapel” section. And with a few more swirly, wave-like swooshes, the song ends, less than three minutes after it has begun.

“Confessor” opens the new Annuals CD, Such Fun, which will be released next week on Canvasback Music, which is a Columbia Records spin-off. MP3 via Stereogum.

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