Sarcastic slacker rock for the underdogs.
Annabel Allum has pretty much established herself as being at the forefront of the modern music disillusionment movement. So far, she’s had a run of intense singles that skillfully showcase her barbed tongue and charming elegance, particularly in the run up to latest EP All That For What.
For example, the first half of the EP is built around these ideals. Consisting of Rich Backgrounds and Eat Greens, the first half of the EP is designed to ease listeners into the familiar jagged sound. Both tracks are characterised by the usual sneering wit and abrasive instrumentation, punctuated with singalong refrains and memorable middle eight repetitions.
In many ways, this section of the EP feels like a softer mash up of Lo-Fi and Grunge with its focus on simple progressions packing a forceful punch. While this isn’t without its pitfalls, such as drawing unnecessary attention to a less-than-impactful refrain in Rich Backgrounds, it is the perfect EP introduction. It establishes the release’s overarching semantics, without alienating any listeners.
Of course, Allum understands that simply following her own well-tread path would not do her musical abilities justice. As such, the latter half of the EP is a lighter stomp through music that takes a different tact and tone.
Picture on Picture, for example, chugs along with less of a vicious bite than what came before. While it gradually builds into a gargantuan track that pulses with warm intensity and vulnerability, it is a complete tonal shift from what was to be expected.
Likewise, Spit closes the EP on a disillusioned lullaby-type vibe. Showcasing more of Allum’s vocal ability than any previous offering, the track is much more of an end-of-night set closer than a final farewell to end things on a high note. The final plucks feel defeated and devoid of the rebellious defiance we began with, almost as if the pressure of being the underdog or outside – a popular lyrical theme throughout – became too much.
In the space of four tracks, Allum redefines perceptions of her act from a softcore provocateur to a mature anarchist that wants to unify the outer edges of society rather than destabilise the whole thing. It’s a strange progression, and certainly an unexpected one. But it is no less successful and no less engaging.