Jan 23 2022

Album Review: Anxious – Little Green House

Emo bands usually wear their hearts on their sleeves, but the guys in Anxious leave room for their influences as well. You can clearly hear traces of their fellow Connecticut elder statesmen The World Is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid To Die. There’s also still a hint of their earlier inspirations, like post-hardcore stalwarts Texas Is the Reason. But when I listen to Little Green House, the quintet’s debut for Run For Cover, I keep thinking about a band they have never mentioned in interviews: Jimmy Eat World.

Maybe that’s because, with the pandemic forcing them to cancel their touring plans, Anxious holed up in the basement of vocalist Grady Allen’s mom’s basement to immaculately transform these ten songs into indie punk brilliance. (The basement is located in a little green house, thus the name, and emo-centric artwork, of the album.) These tracks come just in the nick of time, as bands like Turnstile and Vein.FM have turned heads toward an anticipated gold rush of post-hardcore sounds; it certainly doesn’t hurt that TikTokers have embraced a pop-punk revival and brought loud (albeit more processed) guitars back into the zeitgeist.

Little Green House is packed with razor-sharp melodies, in-the-pocket percussion, and seemingly endless layers of hooks. At just over a half hour, without a second wasted, the band try their hand at a number of styles, like modern punk (“Growing Up Song”), power pop (“More Than a Letter”), acoustic pop (“Wayne”), Midwest emo (“Afternoon”), and the aforementioned post-hardcore (opener “Your One Way Street”).

The band may not be shooting for anything other than recognition in their devoted underground, but crunchy riffs on “Speechless” (with vocals that will remind listeners of raw Nirvana demos), and a Cranberries-esque star turn from guest vocalist Stella Barnstool on closer “You When You’re Gone” give signals Anxious are built for much larger print on festival lineup posters. Still, the band doesn’t stray far from A+ contemporaries like Tiny Moving Parts and Somos, even when the songs could pass for Pinkerton-era Cuomo.

That’s what is most striking about Little Green House – unlike other albums of its ilk, there are charming surprises throughout, and the whole thing is pretty damn diverse. The band covers a lot of ground in 30 minutes, and it all works really well. Even the lyrics, which deal with typical emo tropes like romantic relationships, broken homes, and fractured friendships, give the melodies a buoyancy not found on recent albums from others in the genre. For my money, the best song is still “Call From You,” a relatable rumination on Allen’s obsession with perfect articulation and communication with others; it was one of my favorite songs from last year, and it encapsulates the best qualities of the album into three wonderful minutes.

Despite the lyrical content, Little Green House is a fun listen; it’s endlessly repeatable and a soundtrack for those more pensive moments in 2022, particularly if you prefer your introspection with energetic drum fills and power chords. Jim Adkins would be proud.

Score: 9/10