Top critical review
A derivative, overhyped near-disaster
on July 4, 2007
It's tough to figure out why Anathallo's version of the harmonic joy-soul-joy rings false. Sufjan Stevens made it work and despite what I think, a lot of people believe in Chrisplay, I mean, Coldplay. But Anathallo is flat cola, sweet but lacking fizz. As it veers from mood to mood, triumph to failure, exuberance to melancholy, I suspect that they may be entirely false. After all, as everyone else has already pointed out, the band's name means "to renew or refresh" in Greek, so they're obviously mimic specialists. And by going with seven players, they may want to pretend to be the next Broken Social Scene (a band that knows how to go all over the map and make it work) but they're actually closer to the oft-dreadful Polyphonic Spree in terms of output quality.
The "Hanasakajijii" tracks are all mired in pretention, soaring little numbers that ache for the clouded dream while snickering at themselves for the "brilliance" of spreading out a Japanese story through mirthful murk. The so-called poetry intermingled into the squall is tepid; sometimes lyricism begs to be picked apart, but if you pick apart these words, you'll be left with a handful of clichés. Some moments work, notably the fine "Hoodwink" and the ponderous epic, "The Bruised Reed." It ends on a high note with the reflective shorty, "Kasa No Hone." And even the "Hanasakajijii" foursome isn't entirely embarrassing; despite some nausea and the wincing overreach of such grand endeavors in small hands, they have a few nice touches. Lastly, whoever told them that handclap percussion was the way to win over the world needs to be beaten to death with a VHS recording of "Hey Mickey!" When Queens of the Stone Age did it on "Quick and to the Pointless," they knew it was a JOKE.
Best cuts: "Hoodwink," "The Bruised Reed," "Kasa No Hone (The Umbrella's Bones)," "Dokkoise House (With Face Covered)," "Hanasakajijii (Three: The Man Who Made Dead Trees Bloom)"