Toting a sound that’s a remarkable blend of Weezer meets Motion City Soundtrack with a dash of Plus 44 and a large side of science fiction thrown in, it’s a miracle that the name Anakin isn’t tripping off the tongue of millions of music loving geeks as their favourite band.
With a bit of luck the San Diego outfit’s third full length ‘Celestial Frequency Shifter’ will start to change that, as from the get to it’s a seriously excellent listen. Somehow the record manages to be both peppy and enthusing yet spaced out and thoughtful in bafflingly wonderful equal measure. Throughout incessant chugging guitars skip each song purposefully along providing bite and substance while moog and key lines bring melody in spades, combining brilliantly with the soft, understated vocal to create a warm, fuzzy vibe that washes irresistibly over you.
The heavy use of moogs and various electronic keys help to reinforce the overarching outer space and sci-fi theme of the album, something which won’t come as a surprise with song titles like ‘Satellite’, ‘Apollo’ and ‘Protostar.’ Indeed lyrically much of the record is basically lusciously vibrant sci-fi poetry, albeit with an added warmth and feeling not normally associated with the genre. One minor criticism being that these lyrics aren’t always given the space and time to be heard or make a full impact, as it isn’t always terribly easy to hear exactly what they are over the distorted guitars.
Opener ‘Astro(not)’ does a good job of giving a synopsis of what is to follow, zipping joyously to life and building well to a fun feel good chorus. Things then get a little introverted on ‘Cosmosapien’ with a meandering analysis of dreams and reality.
‘Satellite’ sees a brief pause for breath as heavy guitars crunch over a dreamy mid-tempo keys intro building into one of the albums most memorable and enjoyable chorus hooks. Later big resonating synths herald the beginning of ‘Clairvoyance’ on another relentless guitar driven number, that also features some great vocal harmonies floated delicately on top of the musical cacophony.
At times the constant chugging of the exact same guitar rhythms and time signatures can get a little grating, and the record would certainly have benefited on a greater number of slower or mid-tempo numbers. As especially as they could have given the individual components of the sound that make it so likeable, room to fully shine and be enjoyed. This is need is particularly noticeable when tracks like ‘Artificial’ and ‘Ctrl.Alt.Del’ barrel headlong into each other with no discernible change or break.
‘Celestial Frequency Shifter’ certainly finishes on a high with two of its strongest tracks in ‘Protostar’ and ‘Sunbeam.’ With the former loaded with plenty of gorgeous starlight themed imagery while the later tells the story of winning through testing times and dreams coming true, with some neat allusions to space travel.
Basically Anakin have made the perfect album for nerdy lovers of big fuzzy lo-fi pop rock with heart, brains and expansive shifting imagery. And it is completely and utterly awesome. Sure it tries a little too hard at times, and occasionally is a mite to busy musically. But this doesn’t detract from its quirky, thought provoking brilliance. If ever there was music to pogo to while waving a sonic screw driver then this is it. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to do just that.
‘Celestial Frequency Shifter’ by Anakin is out on now on No Sleep Records.
Words by Dane Wright (@MrDaneWright)