*Originally written in 2009
Anneke’s 3rd release since leaving The Gathering shows further growth as an individual artist and as a whole is a much lighter album than any previous work. I say ‘lighter’ with a positive slant, as this album goes for a more straight forward pop approach, revelling in Beatles-esque melodies rather than some of the more downbeat, introspective, and slower songs from previous albums. There is a sense that Anneke is smiling throughout each track and the sheer joy of writing and performing shines through. Some fans may not agree with the direction she has taken here, but there are still plenty of traditional rock moments. At its core, this is another emotional piece covering a wide array of thoughts and feelings brought to our ears by her heavenly voice.
‘Pearly’ opens the album in a suitably left of centre melodic manner. Twanging chords build gradually, while Anneke sings of desire in an openly horny fashion. The verse and chorus are catchy without being instant ear worms, and she substitutes a guitar solo with her own vocal ‘doos and dees’ – something I always enjoy. This is a strong opener which tends to grow on the listener as time passes.
‘Hey Okay!’ was the lead single and highlights the overall direction of the album. It is probably the most pop-sounding song she has ever written, and as a result is one of her most fun and infectious. It certainly isn’t the sort of fluff which makes up the charts, but rather returns to the days when melody was master and wit and talent followed in tow. Lyrically, it is a partner to the opening track as it continues the subtly sexual themes, but musically it bounces along with one of the most repeatable choruses in recent memory. The song even ends with some tongue in cheek cheerleading vocals.
‘I Want’ continues the light, bouncy introduction to the album, except that the lyrics here are more biting, dealing presumably with some guy or guys and their problems. There are some hilarious synth sounds throughout which give a retro feel and add to the humour of the lyrics, whether intentionally or not. Once again, the ‘do-di-dos’ are extremely catchy and will repeat in your head throughout the day, most often at inappropriate moments.
‘Wonder’ is the first quiet, piano driven, introspective song and as such has a downbeat tone and some heartbreaking lyrics. It re-treads some similar ground from Air but improves upon her debut’s efforts with this feeling much more tuned to heartache and sounding more relatable. It is a simple song, one of loss, one with deep feeling, and one whose simplicity will haunt the listener who has been through a similar situation.
‘The World’ opens with an ominous build-up and a series of questions directed at the listener about the state of The World. The male vocals drop in the second verse to give a different level of texture and tone before the pair duet for the chorus. This is a decent mid-album track which would have more impact in a live setting.
‘Sunny Side Up’ returns us to the lighter side of things in glorious fashion; a lovely, simple, summer song that I can find no fault with. Instantly contagious thanks to beautiful melodies throughout, and a nice string middle section replacing the usual guitar solo. Who’s Miranda?
‘Physical’ begins in acoustic fashion albeit with bitter lyrics and angry vocals which reach a wonderful peak in the chorus. Nice chorus harmonies too. I like how this one switches between sensual and angry, light and dark very easily and quickly, echoing the ‘you…me’ lyrical style. Another novel touch is replacing, or echoing the guitar solo with Anneke’s voice.
‘Home Again’ is the second sullen piano led track, and while it doesn’t pay off as well as the first, it still has strong moments, particularly on the ‘stormy day’ line thanks to the painfully yearning vocals. The verse and chorus seem a little too barren and unaffecting to have a huge emotional impact, but I’m sure there are plenty who will see this as a favourite – just not for me.
‘Wide Open’ is one of the heavier songs on the album, featuring a driving bass line and an interesting series of guitar riffs. The verses aren’t particularly memorable, but the chorus vocals are fairly powerful and the lyrics give off both a blasé air of disinterest and an honest, thankful sentiment.
‘Longest Day’ is my least favourite track on the album, a little too uneventful. There isn’t anything wrong here – it isn’t bland, it just doesn’t have enough to make it stand out from the other softer songs presented. There are good moments, naturally, like some of the melodic parts pre-chorus, and during the chorus – it feels like another track cut from Air as it has the dreamy, thoughtful sensation which permeated that album.
‘Just Fine’ is one of my favourites, a calming mid-paced rocker which has Devin Townsend’s influence all over it. I love both the verse and chorus melodies, both showing off Anneke’s wonderful range, but without doing anything spectacular. It’s another sunny, snappy song.
‘Adore’ closes the album in strong fashion, a 5 star track with stormy guitars and notable melding of vocals and melody. Anneke weaves between the usual soaring sounds and more rough edged vocals where a touch of gravel adds that extra something special. The way the melodies rise and fall along with the guitars is particularly glorious, and although the chorus is a little uneventful, it only lasts a few seconds each time.
While Air was a distinctly cold, and almost barren affair musically (not a bad thing) In Your Room is altogether warmer in tone and theme, with a much fuller musical soundscape. There are more driving rock songs, there is more variety, and there are a selection of standout memorable tracks which deserve more recognition. Anneke here has clearly found her own voice and style, and is having fun writing, recording, and performing. When the output is as strong as this, both she and us should have no complaints.
Let us know in the comments what you think of In Your Room!