Review Summary: An addictively chaotic masterpiece from rock and roll's freshest trio.
The Wytches, a young energetic trio dubbed "surf-psych", burst into the alternative rock scene with debut full length, Annabel Dream Reader. Hailing from England, the band consists of guitarist and vocalist Kristian Bell, bassist Daniel Rumsey, and drummer Gianni Honey.
Annabel Dream Reader is the perfect record to penetrate the current stagnant alternative scene. While groups of bands have been adding a new flavor to rock in the recent few years, none come close to the energy and edge of The Wytches. Kicking off the record is "Digsaw", delivering hordes of feedback and dissonance. Almost immediately, a Sonic Youth and noise rock influence is present, and it's met with a warm welcome. A chilling riff appears, building suspense until Bell's vocals enter the atmosphere, resembling a demented Jack White. Bell drifts between shrieks and cries, shouting "She took all of the light, took all of the light." As soon as "Digsaw" closes, the record moves forward with "Wide At Midnight". Beginning with tremelo arm abuse, The Wytches once again create a chilling atmosphere that remains in the air for the entirety of Annabel Dream Reader. Wide At Midnight's chorus is especially notable, with eerie vocals delivering the main hook, reverberating into the background and clashing with the guitars.
The record rumbles on through "Gravedweller", "Fragile Male For Sale", and "Burn Out The Bruise", all supplying fuzzed out Dick Dale and The Ventures style surf riffs with a noisy flavor. Annabel Dream Reader's guitar work is a main focal point, setting the band apart from the droves and droves of rock bands playing with typical chord structures hoping to reinvent something with no room for new experimentation. By melding dissonance and fuzz with unrelenting feedback and tremelo, The Wytches bring a new light to the guitar sound of bands like Sonic Youth and Fugazi, a pleasant chaos that seemed to have been forgotten at the start of the 2010's. Gianni Honey's drum grooves are perfectly suited for the style, never overpowering and attention seeking, but perfectly complementing the guitar work, as drums should be.
The Wytches have taken an interesting approach to production, recording the entire album in only a two day span in London. Co-produced by Bell and Bill Ryder-Jones, the sound of Annabel Dream Reader is the epitome of energetic. It's the no-BS kind of sound that rock and roll needs, the raw attack and spark that modern music seems to have lost. Where synthetic recording techniques and computer abuse would be, Annabel Dream Reader presents In Utero and Daydream Nation-like chaos, tipping a hat to the disarray of the 90's underground rock and punk scenes.
As the album approaches the second half, The Wytches take the heat off with "Weights and Ties", smothering the guitars in distorted reverb. "Part Time Model" is up next, with an infectious groove and driving beat, followed by "Summer Again", even slower and horrifying. Brandishing lines such as "And now I'm dwelling on the past with a bottle in my lap, shouting at the wall cause he's shouting at me back. I'm going to finish off this spag, something out of my hands, so I can fall asleep fast in a bed of broken glass." Finishing off with an acoustic closer, Annabel Dream Reader has re-introduced the raw energy, roaring fire, and diversity that has been long too absent.
The Wytches have crafted a debut record so addictively chaotic that listeners eagerly await for the next note to be released by rock's freshest trio. Annabel Dream Reader uncovers the forgotten sound that was lost with the breakup of The White Stripes. With one of the best records of 2014, The Wytches have set the bar high for themselves, and the scene's fellow musicians.