Returning to a hazy, sun-soaked youth with Portland's Haste.
Sometimes you just gotta make a band. Sometimes you gotta cut your bangs. Sometimes you gotta take outdated film photos of your friends. Sometimes you gotta record a cover of Beat Happening’s “Indian Summer.” It’s all a part of youth, especially one within the overflowing atmosphere of the West Coast. And it’s all part of what’s going on with Haste on Annabelle, the Portland indie pop outfit’s latest album. The release comes out swinging in the scene of fuzzy pop that has so dominated the bandcamp generation for the last few years. The string of words “indie,” “pop,” and “Portland” can conjure up enough descriptors for the three-piece’s sound. But while the generics of indie pop - a reverby voice, a grungy guitar line, fuzzy riffs galore - are all present on Annabelle, the band is much more than just the trends that make it.
Naturally, the tracks where Haste lets their noisiness take over as the driving force are the album's standouts. “Whatever” is a perfectly-encompassing bummer anthem. Its fuzzed out melodies and deadpan vocal ramblings make it a well-paced mood work. Its follow up, the album’s title track, heats up in a way that shifts from that aesthetic to a much clearer headspace. The song mirrors similar geographic peers such as Helen or The High Violets in its couplets of guitar waterfalls and vocals echoed out to the point where you almost can’t distinguish them from the instruments. But moving past instrumentation, the band’s best effort comes in its simplest track. “Let’s Touch Ourselves” doesn’t shamble away from the embrace of pure youthful existence. In fact, it runs in with arms wide open. It could be a song you hear in passing or in the background of a show you bring a date to, but to fail to engage with it on a more personal level would be a mistake. The lyrics and total honesty that fill the track to the brim make it an easy slip and slide into pubescent-level emotions. Ending on a cover of “Indian Summer” couldn’t be more perfect for the eight song LP. After all, is there a better theme song for youth that’s ever been recorded? There is, and it’s by New Order, but that’s besides the point. The sentiment of returning to younger years is rampant all over these simple and catchy guitar songs the way memories of summer break plague every school semester. And really, there’s nothing wrong with that kind of teenage nostalgia. It’s what has fueled some of our culture’s most defining art movements. Annabelle shows off Haste as a band not scared to dance in the sunshine of that feeling forever and ever.
Listen to Haste on bandcamp.
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Elijah Fosl is a freelance music and culture writer who's really bad at describing themselves. They hail from Louisville but live in Chicago where they work, ferociously devouring cassette tapes and local produce. Find them on Twitter at @elifosl or online at elifosl.com.