EP: Annalies Tang – Disappearing Act

Last week Annalies Tang unveiled their debut single with Jasmine Tea, and I was enthralled. I said at the time that I couldn’t wait to hear more, and I knew I wouldn’t have to wait long. Just a week later, and Disappearing Act, their debut EP, is out, and it absolutely lived up to everything that I had imagined. 

Apparently, Annalies Tang (the singer, not the band) has never been in a band before, and had never even heard ska before embarking on this project. That is actually part of what makes this album so great. They didn’t put out a great ska EP in spite of not being familiar with the genre, their lack of familiarity expanded the genre by including so many influences that had nothing to do with the genre, while combining them into the genre the rest of the band has always played. By blending their style with her I fluency, we get to experience something incredibly special.

The album begins with a slow acoustic guitar accompanied by a second guitar, and a spoken verse that feels like folk music- describing a spiritual encounter that tells the narrator to let go of their worries, anger, anxiety, and obsession. This… well… it’s not what I was expecting on a ska EP, but it’s pleasant, but it was only an introduction to “Heaven’s Mirror” as the drums pick up, the acoustic guitars are traded for electric, and after a few moments the horns transition to the first verse and the spoken word is replaced to the melodic Annalies Tang’s singing as she describes the experience of the spiritual encounter detailed in the intro. At this point the song is not about the message of that encounter, but describing the setting and the emotion of the experience. It’s a unique way to tell the story, but it works incredibly well.

The song adds complexity through the song, a nice syncopated keyboard riff, horns that come in softly and highlight the chorus but don’t get too aggressive. It’s not until the end of the final verse that you realize the tension has been building. An accelerated and pronounced drum rhythm and a long-held final note from the verse and the horns and keys start to rise significantly in a way that reminds me of something from the KMoy’s Princess Precure album I’m the best way possible. The final chorus maintains the aggression, with the guitars, drums, and keys before eventually easing up and fading from the track. This song took me to so many unexpected places, and I loved it.

The second track on the EP is “Jasmine Tea”, a beautiful song about racism and misogyny- especially as directed at Asian women, but I already wrote an entire review of that song as it was the pre-release single. You can find my extended thoughts on that song here, but suffice it to say that I enjoyed it enough to make me eager to review the rest of the album.

“Crystals and Herbs” is a song about mental health. It features the most traditional ska guitars and a nice slow song through the first half of the track, but after about halfway through the song the rhythm changes, the vocal style switches to more spoken word, the ska rhythm disappears as the vocals get serious to tell you that she is happy the you are here with us, and the drums and pace picks up as Tang reminds the listener that someone loves you. The song picks up pace again as a chorus, of sorts, echoes “I love you, we love you”. I really enjoy the drums and the bass in this song, but mostly, I just appreciate the message- so let me say it here as well. You are loved and you are worthy of that love. Like Annalies Tang, I’m also glad that you are here with us. 

“Emilio”, the fourth and final song on the album starts off with a nice horn line and a really catchy ska rhythm, and then hits in with some really catchy pop vocals, and it only takes a few seconds for this to become my favorite song on the album. This song really begs you to bop along, then, when you get to the keyboard solo, you pray you could be there to see this live. The instrumental bridge has amazing horns, the “na na nas” along with the horns in the bridge make you sing along. Everything about this track is fun.

Wait, what’s that? I forgot to mention what the song was about? Oh, it’s just your normal song about a spirit that seeks revenge and punishes misogynistic men on behalf of oppressed women. Holy fuck! It doesn’t really get much cooler than that. Damn, this world needs more Emilios, but at least we have Annalies Tang to sing of her special form of justice- that will have to suffice for now. I love this album and I’ll definitely anxiously await their first full length album.

Written by Gimpleg