Photo by Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUTX
Annabelle Chairlegs — Gotta Be In Love (Self-released)
Lindsey Mackin knows how to bare her teeth and snarl with the best of them. All punkish mentality meets girl-group lilt, the Annabelle Chairlegs frontwoman possesses a growl fit for summoning guitar magnetism. Long-awaited sophomore album Gotta Be In Love doesn’t entirely shed the retro-pop sheen of 2015’s Watermelon Summer, but added grit sees the Austin band explore darker, spookier territory. And a penchant for surf and ‘60s psych-rock conjures up something out of The Lost Boys, the 1987 campy horror film about a teenage vampire gang prowling a coastal California town. “Outside” shivers with paranoia of unknown lurkers (“If you’re gonna go outside, should I warn you?”). Raucous rhythms from guitarist Matthew Schweinberg, bassist Derek Vaugh Nunez Strahan, and drummer Billy Wong animate the urgency of “Silent Spring.” Dizzying compact hooks are the group’s specialty, but “Brain Freeze” showcases Mackin’s full-throttle vocal range over a stretched out six and a half minutes. Two minutes in, the barrage of sound evanesces, leaving only minimal keys and a simple oscillating guitar line. Mackin, ethereal and haunting, floats above until she breaks the spell with a shriek, wailing guitars underscoring her moans about a fickle lover’s “ushy-gushy pieces of brain.” “Candy Apple Red” careens with the neon vitality of a carnival ride on the boardwalk as Mackin spirals: “deep brick red, slick cherry red, shiny rosy red, candy apple red, a stellar deep red on your face.” She might as well be a vampire zeroing in on her next kill.
– Annie Lyons