The Anatomy of Frank - Pangaea (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
THE Anatomy of Frank may hail from Charlottesville, Virginia, but they intend to make waves on a global scale with their music. Debut album Pangaea should enable them to make the first steps towards doing so. It’s epic and has something for everyone.
Combining atmospheric post-rock builds with catchy hooks (to arrive at the genre post-pop), it’s a constantly evolving listen that should play well to fans of Arcade Fire, The Antlers, Jónsi, Radiohead, Eels and even Badly Dawn Boy.
At its heart lies a concept, or an ambition. The Anatomy of Frank want to achieve the seemingly impossible by record an album on all seven continents on Earth, including Antarctica where a rock album has never before been recorded.
The size of the task is not beyond lead singer Kyle Woolard but it hasn’t thwarted his ambition, which begins with the aforementioned concept behind Pangaea (which takes its name the ancient supercontinent that predated all of the continents breaking apart).
Hence, the album represents the theme of separation, starting off sweetly and dealing with love, and ending with brooding, sprawling epics about distance.
And it really does take you on a journey, commencing with the soft banjo licks of opening track Saturday Morning and culminating with the epic, slow-building grandeur of the multi-layered Postlude For Reykjavik.
Saturday Morning also just happens to be a great introduction to them. The banjo is eventually augmented by some fantastic, carnival-style horns and brass as well as an impossibly catchy, melody-strewn chorus that declares: “There’s someone singing in my shower!” It’s a sharp mix of Crowded House and Badly Drawn Boy with Andy Burrows thrown in.
The similarly catchy Mogwai Stole My Chord Progression opens with an Eels vibe (perhaps because of Woolard’s vocal style) and is shot through with great melodies, while Bill Murray opens amid some tranquil piano arrangements and has more of a Radiohead vibe (without the depression).
Hey Satan! (I Know Where You Live), on the other hand, may just be the most celebratory track on the LP, opening amid bouncy “ba ba ba” harmonies and a frenetic but appealing energy (especially whenever the “ba ba ba”‘s return).
Thereafter, the tracks take a little longer to unfold and deliver. Some last for as long as seven minutes.
With Friends Like Me has a more prog-rock vibe about it but Blurry (Pt II) is a power-pop blast of energy that careers into the more slow-building and deliberate Blurry (Pt III), the first of the seven minute tracks, and which takes you on a journey that requires complete attention for the way in which it cleverly unfolds.
Dirge, similarly, clocks in at almost six minutes but is full of intriguing layers and turns before sliding effortlessly into the cinematic sounding Postlude For Reykjavik, which combines gentle string arrangements with brooding guitar licks (among other instrumentals) before becoming a tender ballad of sorts (although that may give you the wrong idea; it’s a ballad of the type that Sigur Ros might call a ballad).
Put together, this is an intelligent, often beautiful, sometimes thought-provoking, at other times rousing, collection of songs that firmly puts The Anatomy of Frank on the musical map. The world beckons…
Download picks: Saturday Morning, Mogwai Stole My Chord Progression, Hey Satan! (I Know Where You Live), Postlude For Reyjkjavik