Bold, boisterous and despairingly dark, Annabel Dream Reader is a full throttle debut from Brighton rockers The Wytches, a band very comfortable with the notion of ‘getting down and dirty’. Delivering a veritable ‘F*ck You’ to the music industry, the stoic trio drop a loud, uncompromising brew of heavy metal, psychedelic blues and hard-core punk, with a raw, effervescent energy that is all too rare nowadays.
Compounding conventional distorted guitar, bluesy riffs, thumping bass lines and trademark shrieking vocals, with some devilishly morose lyrics and song titles, the band employ a discernible loud/quite dynamic while indulging in their dark side in the process. Whether it’s by letting loose on high octane, hook-driven numbers like opening track ‘Digsaw’, and the furiously rhythmic single release ‘Burn Out the Bruise’, or by descending into dingy, foreboding territory with menacing slow-burners, ‘Part Time Model’, ‘Wire Frame Mattress’, and ‘Crying Clown’, the Wytches display a steadfast, in-your-face approach that keeps the listener on edge throughout.
Further experiments with grungey, psychedelic grooves (‘Grave Dweller’), blues-based melodies (‘Fragile Male for Sale’), and delightful indie-riffs (‘Beehive Queen’) demonstrate a different dimension to the album’s arrangement, while the nostalgic lyrics and passionate delivery on ‘Summer Again’ capture a vision of the band’s otherwise imperceptible youth prior to the record’s resonating, acoustic conclusion. Although not without its flaws – at thirteen tracks it feels somewhat long-winded, while the meandering nature of tracks like ‘Weights and Ties’ and ‘Robe for Juda’ detract from the intensity, – the album’s fervent application, provocative exuberance and appropriate appreciation of irony all make Annabel Dream Reader a debut to remember.