Review by Bailey Garno
Earlier this month, Animal Years released their debut album, Sun Will Rise, a musical compilation inspired by Josh Ritters’s 2006 album titled The Animal Years. Sun Will Rise possesses the honesty that you would want from an album that has such a clear focus. Every track is emotionally capturing, heavily laden with beautiful lyrical work done mainly by McFadden. Animal Years delivers instrumentally and vocally, possessing a folk/country sound like that of The Avett Brothers, and raw, grainy vocals like Caleb Followill of Kings of Leon. It will inspire you and leave you itching for more.
“Meet Me” was an excellent choice with which to open the album. It’s a break-up song, which provides the desired emotional charge that Animal Years consistently delivers. McFadden sings, “It might seem like I’m just running, but I’m just trying to find me,” a theme that courses through the rest of the tracks and seems appropriate considering what Saladino expressed in the Bedford and Bowery interview regarding the meaning behind Sun Will Rise.
The track that follows “Meet Me” is my favorite on the album. Entitled “Heart on Heart,” this song is instrumentally dense and driving, rarely letting up. The song moves so fast, it doesn’t even feel like 3:30 has passed when the bass finally fades to silence. What makes this a favorite for me is McFadden and the back-up vocals. McFadden is a real talent, a singer whose vocal power has been described to have a “beckoning” quality, according to Ali Kriegsman in a recent review for SonicEclectic.com. It should touch an emotional chord for listeners. Equally powerful on “Heart on Heart” are the electric guitar riffs that subtly work in the background and are brought to the forefront just before the 2 minute mark. This guitar solo captures the rock sound that makes an otherwise Country group more Americana.
Another notable song off the album is “Let Go Of Your Head,” an anthemic, heavily percussive track that preaches honesty and the courage that goes along with speaking your mind. It’s a song that everyone can appreciate, knowing that we all have found ourselves in moments that scare us into silence. “Sun Will Rise” is also a favorite off the album. It has more of the country sound characteristic of “Rapture” and “Poor Boy,” which is done equally well as rock counterparts like the bonus track, “Got Nowhere to Go.” “Sun Will Rise” is a head rocker and cymbal-crasher, with some country twang mixed in. It makes me want to dance around barefoot with my country-lovin’ friends, despite my previously professed aversion to it.
Interestingly, I find the bonus tracks have the least to offer. “Leah” is unoriginal, and “Fear of Falling” also feels a bit exhausted. Perhaps the album runs too long, and that may be because it was supposedly nearly complete by the fall of 2012! Overall, Sun Will Rise could do without the bonus tracks, minus “Heartbeat,” which cleverly utilizes the bass drum to mimic a steady heartbeat throughout the lengthy but heart wrenching 7 minute track.
Sun Will Rise is an example of hard, honest work. McFadden is undoubtedly the passionate force behind this creation. You can hear it when he belts out the lyrics over the furiously strummed guitar. So take this album, play it in your car or blast it in your bedroom, and listen to the sincerity behind every song.
Recommended Tracks: “Heart on Heart,” “Sun Will Rise,” “Walking Slow”
Overall Rating: 4.5/5