This duo from Miami, Florida, have been experiencing the benefits of buzz in the UK in recent months, as we run up to the launch of their new studio album, Stay Kids, which is due for an official release here in March, on SIC Records (on 10k Islands in the US). ANR also had a quick visit to the UK at the end of 2010, which included a show at XOYO supporting MNDR, and was swiftly followed by the release of the new album’s initial single, ‘The Endless Field Of Mercury’, which appeared this month.
In all honesty, the likes of The Line Of Best Fit and The Culture Of Me have been all over them for years, as the band actually formed over 5 years ago, but under the full name, Awesome New Republic. A couple of albums and a lineup adjustment have occurred during the intervening years, but it’s this latest work that’s earned them the broader coverage.
The new album is packed with ideas, with plenty of hooks and well produced atmospherics. At it’s best it feels like a walk through an imagined theme park of all the most enjoyable alternative pop bands of the last few decades. So much is packed into the album that you can read any review and find a number of different influences listed, from Passion Pit, to TV On The Radio, to MGMT, to Animal Collective, to Yeasayer - the list goes on.
However, it’s worth noting that it sometimes suffers under the weight of it’s own theatrical abandon. Listen to a track such as ‘It’s Around You‘ and you get the sort of swagger normally associated with manufactured boy bands. It hurts only a little, as they back it up with such credible, well-produced, harmonic excellence that you realise it’s precisely these pop highlights that the boy bands are in fact aspiring to attain.
A track such as the new single, ‘Endless Field Of Mercury‘, is a song the 24-year old Brian Wilson would have been proud of, starting as it does with a stripped down piano riff, before it builds up into an over-dramatic, ceremonial anthem. Songs warp and shift throughout each of their (often) three minute lengths. Arrive at 1 minute 37 seconds into the title track, ‘Stay Kids‘, and you will hear the Flaming Lips walk into the influences like an elephant.
Elsewhere they’ve also completed a few handy remixes, including for the fellow Florida resident, Million Young, as well as for Camden-ites The Brute Chorus. Should you live State-side and want a taste of their live sets you can catch them currently playing shows, sometimes in support of Washed Out, through February.
We like to think that if a significant number of the right blogs, music websites and other tastemaking commentators generate enough buzz about an artist, then the momentum can carry them into the wider public’s attention. However, the product must also be able to stand tall on it’s own. Stereogum, said of the last album that it was “heavy on ideas…but a little short on focus“, and the truth is that has continued in part with the new LP, but rest assured that there’s still a brilliant quality found on ANR‘s latest effort that should last long after the buzz has ceased. (MB)
ANR – DON’T FEAR THE GET OUT
ANR – STAY KIDS