ANR – Stay Kids (Something In Construction)

May 7, 2011 by  

For those of you who are looking for something to fill the void of MGMT, while they commence recording their third album, you could do worse than accept this Miami duo as a substitute.

Although ANR, full name Awesome New Republic, utilise the same psych-pop elements in their music as MGMT they are a funkier ensemble leaning towards a more Prince and Parliament template, which contributes to their melodic yet raw sound.

The other major difference is, unlike MGMT, who wear their pop aesthetic proud, ANR take a more a more lo-fi approach. They allow tracks to build and morph around soulful vocals and synth chords, which lead into dazzling soundscapes.

The call to arms nature of title track ‘Stay Kids’ is the perfect example of their slowbuild approach. Its downbeat electronica and breezy vocals peppered with Glockenspiel lead into a chorus akin to Faming Lips, with its use of cosmic textures. It’s bonkers but it works because the track is bursting with melody and is totally euphoric and addictive.

‘Big Problem’ builds on the strong start, with its heavy electro synth backing and funk vocals bringing to mind Brooklyn’s TV on The Radio. It would have gone perfectly on their last LP as would ‘Its Around You’, although its squelching synths and booming vocals are more indebted to Depeche Mode.

A number of the tracks on this album are short sharp bursts of energy with enough ideas within them to make them sound like mini epics, which isn’t always a good thing. The longest track, ‘Endless Field of Mercury’, is also one of the album’s key tracks. It starts off with a keyboard motif, big drums and what seems like an Ashcroft vocal from Hancock, before gradually morphing into a stormer of an electro-psych pop track that’s primed for festival season.

There is however some filler present, especially when their ideas spiral out of control. No more so than on the misguided ‘My Father Worked with Planes’, which outstays its welcome, and ‘This is the timing’, which becomes far too monotonous. What saves the album from falling totally flat on its face is the Afrobeat influenced closer ‘A Year of Solitude Pays Off’, which displays that same carefree attitude evident on the first few tracks and is a great little pop number.

What is clear though is that despite some flaws ANR are masters of creating cosmic funk epics with heavenly melodies, using a combination of glacial synths, hazy vocals and psych rock wigouts to batter the listener into submission. If they only followed through on their big ideas they could have hit gold. Nevertheless it’s a captivating introduction from this Miami twosome and sets the scene for what’s to come.

[rating:3]


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