Annie Taylor are a Swiss band who proclaim “We love The Alps, chocolate and cheese” but in the case of new album Sweet Mortality the hills are alive with the sound of amped-up power pop that has the same kind of ‘punk’ sneer that drove early Blondie tracks like ‘Rip Her To Shreds’ and ‘X Offender’ or taps into the energy of The Go-Go’s or X. The album seems more influenced by US bands, with the use of layered harmonies and power chord strata, than the UK scene which had the tang of grey-sky despair.
I was mildly befuddled at first. The album, as the cover, with its burnt orange hue and bleached out head shots, had the feel of 70s monolithic covers from metal acts band Black Sabbath, plus the band are comprised of Michael Mutter, bass, Tobias Arn, guitar, Jan Winkler, drums and Gini Jungi, vocals and guitar; no one called Annie Taylor. A bit of research reveals that in 1901 Annie Edison Taylor was the first person to survive a trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel and on her 63rd birthday, no less.
Opening track ‘Drive’ is a muscle car opening that, despite the lack of keyboard player, manages to create a pulsing DEVO-like momentum that is quickly followed by ‘Telephone’, full of bendy pop-blues guitar riffs with twisting major-minor switches and ‘She Loves You No More’ a full throttle black ski run down a mountain. There are splashes of psych throughout the album from the swirling vortex of backwards guitar at the end of ‘Smokes’, or the heavily reverbed vocals on ‘Where The Grass Is Greener’ and then there’s ‘Made Up My Mind’, ‘Smoking Teenage Girl’ and ‘17 Days’ a trio of songs that sound like someone made The Bangles very, very angry. There are also gentler songs like the contemplative ‘A Thousand Times’ with its beautiful guitar riff, the stomping slow-mosh of ‘Lucy’ and ‘The Fool’ which closes the album like one of those songs that accompanies a helicopter shot of a city at night in an edgy drama.
Sweet Mortality is a set of songs that would make your open topped car journey across America a delight and put you in danger of breaking some speed limits. Annie Taylor have brought a refreshingly uncynical sound to bear on a set of tracks twist that, fuzz, stomp, swirl, fizz, snap, crackle and punk-pop their way to putting a smile on the face of anyone who likes to sit on the spectrum of power chord bands like Miss June at one end and The Beths at the other sweet-harmony end.
Review by Paul F Cook