Annuals: Sumo, Leicester, Sunday July 8

Unhinged collective with just a hint of Arcade Fire have public breakdown

Annuals frontman Adam Baker is being electrocuted. Resembling Oliver Reed at his most rat-spangled he’s clutching the mic-stand and shaking violently, drooling at the mouth, hair standing on end and teeth gnashing loudly. Eventually though, he looks up smiling, to reveal this is just an eccentric dance move and that he’s not actually channelling the national grid through his tippy toes. Phew – we cancel the slightly panicked call to 999.

If you hadn’t guessed already, Annuals are more than a little bit bonkers. To the untrained eye, they may at first glance look like quite a wholesome bunch of American youths, all tank-tops and varsity T-shirts like they’ve just stepped off the set of 1970s-set teen flick Dazed And Confused, but not so. This six-piece are deranged, like a training bra Arcade Fire. ‘Brother’ and ‘Bleary-Eyed’ are marginally softer and sweeter than their Montreal-based musical cousins, but they’re just as frickin’ intense. Crammed on to the tiny stage is a three-drum arrangement and all manner of synthesizers – which Baker seems to frottage towards the end of the strutting ‘Carry Around’ to get the desired shimmery, wig-out sound. There are more shooting-star synths in ‘Chase You Off’ and ‘Sway’ – and during the latter, Anna Spence, the band’s pre-Raphaelite muse keyboardist, who seems to spend almost the entire gig hiding behind her wavy auburn fringe, snuggles up close to Baker and whispers something in his ear. Baker nods before the whole place blazes up again in a eardrum-buggering cacophony.

If you like it loud, fresh and your singers veering towards the straight-jacketed side of things, you need a flick through Annuals.

Leonie Cooper

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