A Track by Track review of Anxious’ Little Green House released on January 21, 2022 via Run For Cover Records.
1. Your One Way Street
A dynamic poppy opening track for the record. The lyrics reminisce on a changing relationship, attempting to coalesce the facts with emotions. These themes are present throughout the record. Vocalist Grady Allen is unafraid to confess how he feels loudly with harsh yells or clearly in his crisp cleans. Accompanied by crowd-bouncing rhythms and choruses that are begging to be yelled back. Your One Way Street takes the listener on a tour through Anxious’ guitar focused jams. The closing seconds introduce key elements of what’s to come on the record. Vocal ad-libs of Oohs and Ahs along with a brightly picked acoustic guitar brings an optimistic quality to the dynamic landscapes painted on this song and throughout the record.
2. In April
One of the catchier tracks from the album with its feet firmly planted in pop-punk territory. If you liked what The Story So Far and Neck Deep were doing in 2015 enter through here. While the song has a familiar quality, Anxious won’t let you mistake them for someone else. This song has great guitar work that branches outside of strummy strummy chug-chugs of the aforementioned groups. The winding intensity of the track is owed to the bend filled main riff. This also won’t be the first time I mention the absolutely killer drums on the album at large. In the bridge there are pressure building tom fills that releases into the emphatic yells of (“You’re calling upon me, I’m nowhere to be seen”). It’s a moment that is controlled and incorporated well into the structure of the song as it transitions into the final chorus. On In April Anxious shows mastery of a style that seemingly ran its course 6 or 7 years ago.
3. Growing Up Song
Groovy intro. Allen recognizes that adulthood is coming. The vocal delivery on this song is much lower for Allen like he might be affecting an older, more mature version of himself. The controlled intensity of Growing Up Song is refreshing. The energetic pace of each section feels rationally connected, the band gradually adds a little more “umph” as the song progresses. When we finally get to the big anthemic outro, it’s worth it. The vocals soar over the instrumental and it’s actually good singing, not just singing that works. Overall this is a mature song for a young band. It’s an appropriate approach for a song that speaks to the often volatile ground of transitioning into adulthood.
4. More Than A Letter
This was actually the first song that got me interested in Anxious. It was originally released in 2021, but the version on Little Green House is rerecorded and retooled ever so slightly. Compared to the previous version the bass is super chunky and deeply present. Another difference I noticed is that it sounds ever so slightly faster, 5-7 bpm of difference by my very rigorous calculations (tapping on my metronome app). That’s not mentioning the 20 seconds shaved off its runtime. I miss the “oohs” in the bridge of the previous version which have been replaced by a modest instrumental break. While this song was a highlight for me coming into Little Green House I feel that its streamlined approach sterilizes the emotional weight of the original.
As discussed on ‘In April’ there is some pop-punkery going on here. What would a pop-punk band be without their acoustic song? In the first down moment of the record we get something completely different. Just when you think this song is gonna be a solo sensitive lovecall, the barbershop quartet backing vocals kick in. Your first thought might be “Wow, that sounds corny”, but you also might be surprised how well it works. I’m going out on a limb here but these may be the first “bum bums” I’ve heard on a record with harsh vocals on it.
The screamed vocal breaks in to reject the sensitivity of Wayne. If you thought there was gonna be a tide shift, that was just the calm before the storm. The drums crash and drive this song. Anxious’ hardcore roots shine through the most here, much like the break in the energy of Wayne, Speechless displays yet another side of Anxious that has been tempered in the preceding songs. Grady pleads in the opening lines (“Please talk to me / I can’t pull words off my chest”). The song relents so you can quickly catch your breathe before a pinch harmonic breaks into the next chorus. On the outro we get a moment of clarity after the barrage of sound we’ve been subjected to. In one of the best moment on the record this song morphs from its aggressive hulk persona and shrinks down to reveal Anxious’ sensitive core with the closing lines, (“But I’m no one, and I feel empty / And you’ll go knowing that you’re all I need”)
7. Let Me ft. Pat Flynn
I think song calls for a bit of a Hardcore history lesson to contextualize the notable collaboration with genre-legend Pat Flynn on this track. Have Heart is a Hardcore band from the east coast, Boston to be exact. For being from a town that is known for its tough attitude and alcoholism, HH is notably straight edge and critical of Bostonian machismo on their seminal record Songs To Scream At The Sun. This is an important band, love them or hate them. Most notably their Farewell and Reunion shows drew the largest crowds in the history of the genre. The reunion show on July 6, 2019 gathered a crowd of 10,000 to a parking lot in Wocester, MA (Kerrang). One of the opening bands was none other than Anxious, captured by Hate5Six obv. Today the two are labelmates on Run For Cover.
Pat Flynn’s presence on this track is enough to anoint this band to legion of die-hard Hardcore fans. Flynn is featured on the back half of Let Me providing a rich background vocal (“I could never show how I feel / You could never see at all”). I can see those that enjoyed Flynn’s most recent effort, Fiddlehead’s Between The Richness, loving Little Green House and vice versa.
8. Call From You
Shifting from the aggression of 2019’s Never Better, Call From You is a push and pull between the band’s heavier and more melodic style. This being the lead single from the record it is an appropriate introduction to its content. The shift is skillfully executed here with the addition of backup vocals and a stronger emphasis on singing. Anxious retains their heaviness without feeling dark or brooding. Harsh vocals deliver the lines (“The one that keeps me from asking how / How you are and what you’re doing now”) regarding the metaphorical lump in Grady Allen’s throat. These lyrics have a more confessional quality rather than one of anger.
This song is another departure for the record. Lyrically we follow a new train of thought as guitarist Dante Melucci sings his own thoughts on departure. Afternoon is the most passionately delivered song on the record. The repeated line (“Treasured in your eyes”) is sewn through the fabric of the song, peeking out between Allen’s episodes of tardiness. As the song progresses it feels like a Bueller-esque backyard dash, his antics are sweet if not slightly annoying. Afternoon captures a new exciting journey for Anxious, which will certainly take them to new places, but they don’t seem worried (“In the light of my kin / Everything’s less broken”).
A piano rendition of this song can also be heard as Dante’s Afternoon on the New Shapes EP Released on Triple B.
EDIT: Dante Melucci sings this track, not Grady Allen.
10. You When You’re Gone
Now we’ve reached the records closer. If you were expecting a big finish you may be slightly disappointed. You When You’re Gone functions more like a credit sequence. The slow ambient fade into the song hits a bit different and hardly feels like anything that has been introduced on the album thus far. It takes 2 minutes for Allen to chime in fa supporting role to Stella Branstool who is the song’s star. The crashing drums that have carried 80% of the record are pulled to the background as sweetly plucked guitars take over. The hard-hitting distorted guitars that we’ve grown accustomed to are gone. The guitars that are present feel like they belong in a dreamy 2010s romcom montage following the protagonist through the rain where Rachel McAdams is waiting to be won over. Much like on Afternoon this closer meditates on the thought of leaving, being the sole person left behind. Afternoon pt. 2 may be a more apt title as it could be seen as a perspective shift to those that Allen is leaving.
Overall, I enjoyed digging deep into Anxious and their debut full-length Little Green House. There are a lot of cuts on this record that add variety to the staple sounds of Pop-punk or Post Hardcore, the labels that the band is often associated with. Most of my excitement for this record is in the back half where the band takes more chances. Songs like ‘Wayne’ and ‘Afternoon’ are well executed shifts that allow for moments of greater reflection often overshadowed by the energy of faster cuts. Even when the band picks up the tempo their songs remain controlled. Structurally these songs are well considered smoothly moving from section to section. I really appreciate when a band can take their foot off the gas, embracing the energy they’ve built up. It will be exciting to see where this effort will propel them in the future.
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