In her roughly three years performing, Annabel Allum has earned the reputation as the future of the UK indie-rock scene, following in the footsteps of PJ Harvey, Nadine Shah, and Kate Bush. Like the aforementioned legends, her songwriting is as edgy, sharp, and piercing as her music. Her last EP, All That For What, highlighted her combination of power and grace, ferocity and elegance. It made her an artist to watch, not just among us but also grabbing the attention of BBC Radio, The Line of Best Fit, and other taste-makers. Now comes her second EP, Sorry I’m Not Perceptible, which is another tour-de-force effort and validates the long held belief she’s the next great Brit artist.
Opener “Beat the Birds” reveals all the traits that make the twenty-something Guildford artist one to watch – it is bold, fearless, and timely. As the distorted guitars and rhythms hammer hard in the background, Allum unleashes a torrent of biting lyrics that address all the double-crossers and the double standards of society. Despite all this, we awake each day and go through the same crap like “unfaithful fools”.
Allum expands on her artistry with the surprising “em(ily)”. While most would create a soft, solemn ballad when writing a sincere dedication to a friend, Allum opts for a grungy, gritty rock number. As the brooding guitar quietly rages in the background, Allum’s vocals take on a droning almost deadpan tone. Her voice isn’t being upset at her friend, but it represents Allum state-of-mind and emotional well-being when she often reaches out to Em. How Em is the one whom she leans on during difficult times. As she states:
“Tell me to keep my mind still.
Ask me if I’m o.k.
Please me, just get me through the day.”
Part Fiona Apple and part Sharon Van Etten, “Rascal” is a rapturous, slow-burning, emotional train wreck, and in a good way. The track commences calmly before the melodic rock tones turn into a fierce growl. The ending guitar solo is mind-blowing and spine-tingling. Her words, as always, are strikingly honest and powerful. There’s no hiding behind the veil of ambiguity for Allum on this song. She fully reveals her troubles and those she caused. People don’t make songs like “RASCAL” anymore.
The finale, “mouse in his mouth”, is another heart-stopping track. It’s fire and ice, fury and intimacy rolled into one fabulous track. Allum’s voice, however, is calm and sincere, and she leaves it to her guitar and the pounding rhythms to provide the desperation. Her words, though, still pack a punch, as she recalls a boy from her past who carried a mouse in his pocket. What happens to him is unclear, but regret tinges through Allum’s voice and words. As the song drowns in an epic flurry of guitars and rhythms, she says into the distance, “Go ahead and blame me.” It’s an omission of guilt, an apology, and an expression of forgiveness.
The song and the entire EP, for that matter, reveal once again why Allum stands among UK’s indie-rock greats. She’s never afraid to face reality and her own demons. And in each and every song, she delivers a lesson in how honesty and self-scrutiny can be empowering. She is, indeed, the future queen of UK indie rock.
Sorry I’m Not Perceptible is out now via Killing Moon.
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