The Anniversary

Your Majesty

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With their second album, Your Majesty, the Anniversary deliver on the left-field emo pop they crafted on Designing a Nervous Breakdown, both expanding on some of their artier tendencies and keeping the playful, hooky songwriting that made their debut so refreshing. And while Your Majesty has an aptly lush sound thanks to Rob Schapf and Doug Boehm, the group's inherent, slightly awkward earnestness shines through at every turn. It's an intriguing contrast, particularly on the album's more experimental moments -- "Husam, Husam" sounds like a pocket-sized Pink Floyd epic, complete with a prelude, spacy keyboards, breathy backing vocals, and slightly embarrassing lyrics ("Drink mother's milk and be free!"), but the band pulls it off through sheer guilelessness and talent. The similarly prog rock-influenced album closers, "Death of the King" and "Follow the Sun," don't fare quite as well, if only because the rest of Your Majesty is so solid. The sweet harmonies and playful keyboards on "Peace, Pain and Regret," "The Siren Sings," and "Never Die" sound like what the Rentals should've gone for on their second album, while driving songs like "Crooked Crown" and "Tu Whit Tu Whoo" are two of the Anniversary's finest rockers. Throw in the sweetly folky "Ghost of the River" and Your Majesty shapes up as a diverse, accomplished album that manages to be unabashedly emotional, playful, and ambitious all at the same time.

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