The Anniversary's debut, Designing a Nervous Breakdown
, was a full-throttle buggy ride through an '80s-inspired wonderland where the Moog-driven sound of The Cars and Devo was held in the utmost regard. Almost immediately, the record won the group critical and consumer acclaim on a par with their peers and mentors, The Get Up Kids. But in something of a strange twist, the band's recent split release with Superdrag hinted at a more mature sound that held more in common with '70s AM radio than with anything Mothersbaugh and company ever committed to tape.
Produced by the omnipresent Rob Schnapf, Your Majesty sees the Lawrence, KS quintet merging the hyperkinetic urgency of their debut with the swooning, melodramatic nature of their more recent work, resulting in a sound not unlike a three-way collision involving Blondie, Buffalo Springfield and The Pretenders. While the incessantly bleeping keyboards and snotty guitars that characterized their debut might have been left by the wayside, the kids haven't forgotten how to rock; they're simply bringing the rock in different and more accomplished ways. Welcome to the Anniversary v2.0.
While devoid of the manic energy and double-time rhythms that were almost the group's trademark, songs like "Sweet Marie" and "Tu-Whitt Tu-Whoo" maintain a fiercely rocking edge via slowly evolving song structures and explosive, crunch guitar-driven choruses. However, comparing Your Majesty to The Anniversary's debut is wholly unfair; in doing so, you'll overlook the record's most magical moments. A trio of epic compositions -- "Husam Husam" and "The Ghost of the River" and the blinding album closer "The Death of a King"/"Follow the Sun" -- highlights the group's growth as songwriters and musicians; their wistfully memorable melodies, breathy boy-girl vocal turns and patient, expansive demeanor prove that, in this disposable-pop-riddled world, The Anniversary have the talent and ability to build a lasting career.
Old guard Anniversary fans -- if there can be such things for a group with only two albums -- may not know what to make of Your Majesty. And that's alright, really; it seems as if even the band themselves weren't quite certain what to think about their latest creation. However, whether Your Majesty is a monumental success or a colossal failure, The Anniversary are clearly a band that's not content to rest on their laurels, who refused to make the same record twice -- and that makes them worthy of your respect.