The Wytches – Annabel Dream Reader (Album Review)

In times like these, it’s quite hard for small, young bands to get the break they so rightly deserve. Plenty of talented bands around today just aren’t making the impression which newcomers such as The 1975 and Royal Blood have made in the last year. However, there’s currently a new wave of bands who are all on the verge of making a name for themselves, with one of them being Brighton-trio The Wytches. Today, the Kristian Bell-fronted doom surf rockers released their debut album Annabel Dream Reader.

Opening with chaotic feedback and synth squiggles, Digsaw opens the album with a memorably haunting riff, combined with Bell’s piercing howl during the chorus. As with every song on the album, its lyrics are odd and full of imagery. Wide at Midnight demonstrates this with an opening line of “my legs, like films played backwards” as it trudges along with haunting menace before finishing on a chaotic, screamed outro. Gravedweller opens with a jangly, doomy guitar riff which is followed by an even bigger riff as Bell shouts “well they are coming after me” in its chorus. Three songs in, and Annabel Dream Reader is already bordering on the absurd, as Bell’s lyrics flirt with various themes of broken heartedness and life, masked by a selection of odd metaphors.

Fragile Male stomps along with marching band-esque drumming and a catchy chorus, while new single Burn Out the Bruise’s opening riff is set to incite many moshpits at their upcoming shows. An absurd line of “and two pictures of you were drowning in my soup” makes way for a big chorus before the song finishes on a catastrophic note. Wire Frame Mattress proceeds to slow the pace down a bit, before an upbeat solo later on once again demonstrates The Wytches knack for a killer riff. Beehive Queen’s riff is also equally memorable, yet haunting, as its differing tempos and gnarly vocals start sounding similar to what we’ve heard before. Weights and Ties is the first ballad on Annabel Dream Reader, as it waltzes along in a ¾ time signature courtesy of Gianni Honey. It’s the first moment on the record where we see The Wytches’ more fragile side, as opposed to the chaotic monster of a record we’ve heard so far.

Part Time Model starts slowly with Bell’s ghoulish “and I woke up like a stranger”, as the song slowly builds up into a doom-laden chorus with haunting harmonies and a short riff. Summer Again then takes the crown for most beautiful song on the album, as its lovelorn lyrics depict break-up and alcoholism when Bell emotionally shouts “And now I’m dwelling on the past, with a bottle on my lap / Shouting at the wall, because he’s shouting at me back”. Early single Robe For Juda’s opening riff makes way for more of the recognizable Wytches-formula, before Crying Clown introduces us to an extremely catchy line of “graveyard girl swinging her bag like a pendulum”, making way for a heavy riff. The sarcastically titled Track 13 closes the record on a low-key note with acoustic guitars and an instrumental progression which ends up not going anywhere special as the album finishes on a sudden note.

As debut albums go, Annabel Dream Reader is impressive. Its low-fi, chaotic attitude makes it sound exciting. There are signs of repetitiveness in a few songs, but that’s made up for by the sheer brilliance of the likes of Digsaw, Gravedweller and Summer Again, all of which demonstrate The Wytches’ ability to produce a killer riff, yet also reign everything in for a few minutes. The Wytches are a band who are definitely going places.