Anthem In – The Cloudbusting EP

Anthem In - The Cloudbusting EP

Anthem In - The Cloudbusting EP

Like most sane individuals, I can shamelessly admit that I am a skeptic of albums named after cover songs from the 80’s. I mean, come on. It’s alright to throw in a few cover songs here and there. It’s kind of like a security blanket, or a greasy, late-night comfort food. But when your entire album is named after and fronted by a version of Kate Bush’s 1985 single “Cloudbusting,” the situation at hand quickly escalates from “Ho-Hum” to “Questionable.”

Enter Exhibit A: Anthem In, a quintet of flashy East Coast whippersnappers who are the forefathers of The Cloudbusting EP, and the culprits of the aforementioned cardinal sin. Seemingly overshadowed by the near-ridiculousness of their project’s theme, Anthem In falls short of any ambitious goals they might have had for this release. But hey, don’t get me wrong. There is nothing obscene or repulsive about this band. It’s just that there is nothing all that great either. Songs have predictable rhythms, basic themes, and as a result, there is disappointingly little to distinguish Anthem In from legions of similar-sounding pop-punk clones.

The EP starts off with a sort of clichéd scribbly guitar moan before launching into an upfront, no-strings-attached bouncy jam. While instantly catchy and cool, it soon becomes apparent that give or take a few (one, actually…) slow-dance curveballs, the rest of the songs sounds alarmingly similar. And there is a very predictable pattern that the whole thing seems to follow. All songs start out loud and peppy, and then phase out into the mandatory “Quiet and Mellow Contemplation Zone.” Then, when it seems too glum and sad, the song starts to not-so-subtly build up to loud again, and then transitions into is a sort of “break-it-down” instrumental section. Lastly, comes the ever-popular triumphant finish and then the fade out to black. Copy paste. Copy paste. Repeat. Repeat.

Despite the fact that it all sounds like the same thing over and over again, the EP’s one redeeming quality is that the songs are ridiculously catchy. For better or for worse, these songs will get stuck in your head sporadically at various inconvenient times throughout the day. I can guarantee it. But while it initially seemed novel and hip, there is little to keep you interested on repeat listens. Beneath its ultra-marketable, happy-go-lucky cocoon, there is not a whole lot going on except angsty high school drama, played out “what if” themes, and ambiguous tales of regret. Throughout The Cloudbusting EP, lyrics are simple and ridiculously repetitive. Take for instance the song “Leanings,” which concludes with lead singer Allen Orr repeating the phrase “you don’t see” sixteen times over. This would be bad enough, only I managed to find and track down eight other “you don’t sees” lurking throughout the rest of it. And considering that there are only five other verses in the entire cut, this means that the song is roughly composed of 40% of some sort of variation of the phrase “you don’t see.” Wow. Other similar calculations yield surprisingly similar results. “Universal” fundamentally consists of three basic phrases. And when you closely examine “History,” you realize that out of the song’s 28 lines, only about six of them are actually different. No wonder all of this sounds the same to me. It’s because it actually is the same.

If nothing else, The Cloudbusting EP serves as a lesson to others. Repetition and familiarity may be key ingredients in successful pop music, but if you overindulge in their comforting qualities, your efforts will sound sluggish and unoriginal. And when you string together an entire release that stubbornly ignores this glaring error, the inevitable consequence will be disappointment.

Quiet/Loud Records