In approaching a new album for the first time, there is often a conflicting duality of emotion. On one hand, there is anticipation — being completely new to an album, one cannot help but be excited about what the jewel case might contain. On the other hand, there is fear — fear that the album will not live up to expectation, or at least live up to either the hype or the band’s prior material. After listening to opening tunes “Noni’s Field” and “Italo”, I was succumbing to the latter. On Canopy Glow, Anathallo (MySpace) simply wasn’t living up to their former selves.
Let’s face it, Floating World was an outstanding album. At the time, I noted its similarities to Sufjan Stevens, but felt Anathallo differentiated itself thanks to an emphasis on experimentation. There were clever plays on volume and time that simply aren’t as apparent on Canopy Glow. Maybe it’s my love of the concept album that’s doing it, but Canopy Glow simply does not transition as well between songs as its predecessor.
That being said, Canopy Glow is worthwhile; upon further listens, the album opens up and light elements of the experimentation that was rampant on their debut allow themselves to shine. And while the Stevens reference is more relevant on Canopy Glow, Anathallo’s continuous ability to toss in sounds like the pulling apart of velcro and various foot stomps to allow them to remain distinctive. Also remaining is their clever time plays — again referencing “Noni’s Field”, this time for its outstanding shakers — but rather than boldly placing odd elements of time in the forefront, Anathallo keeps them masked in the meat of the song (though there are a few exceptions, namely the phenomenal fourth track, “The River”).
When it all comes down, Canopy Glow may not be as striking nor as stark or bold as the Anathallo’s early work, but when you sit through a few listens, you’ll come around. There’s plenty here to enjoy and there’s plenty to get excited about, it just may take a moment or two to really sink in.
Anticon [CD, 2008]
1. Noni’s Field
3. Northern Lights
4. The River
6. Sleeping Torpor
7. All The First Pages
8. John J. Audubon
10. Tower Of Babel