The abrasive queen of cool loses her edge on latest release.
Annabel Allum is synonymous with abrasiveness, angst and attitude. It’s what we’ve seen and heard from her time and time again: outsider alt-rock with underlying pop sensibilities, propelled out of speakers by explosive instrumentation, biting vocals and an air of IDGAF.
So it’s strange that after sharing an EP that introduced more melancholy into the mix (Sorry I’m Not Perceptible), she’s followed it up with a release of alternative cuts that paint a different picture of her; one that seems defanged and strangely without bite.
The new EP, Sorry I’m Not Perceptible: Bedroom & Live Sessions, consists of exactly what it says in the name: a mix of live versions and demos of songs from the release. The first two tracks, versions of Beat The Birds and em(ily) taken live from BBC Music’s Biggest Weekend 2018, are shortchanged by the quality of the sound provided. It’s as if the person handling the sound on the day didn’t do Allum justice, with her energy being drained by the mixing. She sounds too quiet and, while you can certainly tell she’s full of raw angst and expressing it, it fails to deliver in these recordings.
Most interesting are the demo cuts, which feel better mixed but drastically different to the end product. Beat The Birds loses its trademark anger and becomes far more melancholic and elongated, while RASCAL sounds almost tormented in Allum’s deliveries. She sounds encumbered with agony rather than anger; bruises rather than bitterness. It’s not what we expected to hear, but it’s a fascinating insight into Allum’s creative process and possibly into Allum herself.
But that’s largely where this EP falls: a fascinating insight, but one that doesn’t hit the mark as an enjoyable playback experience. The levels are inconsistent, the raw emotion becomes too much to bear and the bite is toothless.