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August 22, 2006

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American east-coasters with bedroom roots, Snowden began life as the solo project of one Jordan Jeffares. Soon, the songs he penned grew into fully-realised beings, and a band became necessary to transfer his compositions from four walls of his home to rather grander surroundings.

Finishing this briefest of histories, Snowden found themselves playing with the likes of Arcade Fire and Xiu Xiu, among many other significant others, in 2005, which brings us rather rapidly to this, the quartet’s debut album. Although previous pieces of critical prose have highlighted Anti-Anti’s leanings towards domestic aural doom-mongers such as Editors and Joy Division, and a number of shoegazing outfits, there’s not a great deal across these twelve tracks that truly echoes any particular UK-based miserablists. The overall mood, too, is a lot more jovial than such comparisons may imply: while certain songs do initially wallow in no little despair, punchy percussion and jabbed-at guitars soon provide effective pick-me-ups.

No fewer than half of these songs could, if given the right level of support and promotion to the correct individuals, rival the likes of DFA1979 and The Rapture so far as dance-floor space-fillers go: ?°»Black Eyes’ pulses and chatters, tub-thumps and twinkles, and is an absolute certainty to get the most statuesque of indie club-attending individuals up and out of their chairs. Its buzzing bassline alone is worthy of a hearty cardio-vascular workout, no pun intended. Likewise, ?°»Counterfeit Rules’ is drizzled in a degree of menace and hostility, but its toe-tapping backbone of incessantly skittering beats and rumbling bass tones combine to great effect. Each could follow one of Interpol’s crisper numbers, for example, in any club across this land and beyond.

Those craving something with a little more obvious depth, a mite more introspection, will have their appetites sated by ?°»My Murmuring Darling’ and ?°»Victim Card’. The former is a gently unfolding effort that opens with a Growing-style drone before breaking into hushed vocals and lyrics of dumbstruck love; the latter, meanwhile, features a guitar coaxed into moaning like a widow at a graveside. It sounds like a creature’s howl, like the unleashing of truly primal emotions through a terrifying noise.

Although never absolutely able to plough its own totally unique furrow, Anti-Anti is nevertheless a wonderfully-rounded, wholly satisfying debut. Its balance of gloom and grandeur is brilliantly executed, ultimately leaving the listener with an insatiable thirst for more of the same. Album number two can’t come quick enough.

8 / 10

Drowned in Sound

Mike Diver