Album Review: Pete Donnelly’s ‘Anthem of the Time’

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Pete Donnelly’s (The Figgs) latest solo effort is an emotional time machine of sorts. Innocence and naivety are painted all over it, which when done right, is pure and unadulterated fun. When listening to ‘Anthem of the Time’, it reminded me of being a teenager in my bedroom again and absorbing some of the best power-pop songwriting for the first time. 

“I’m just trying to have a bit of fun in the process,” Donnelly wrote for the newest album on his Bandcamp page. “A couple of these other tunes are a smattering of loose recordings that didn’t need any more development. I love the way music was made on 4trk recorders back when in bedrooms with abandon.”

Photo by Dallyn Pavey/Dish Public Relations

Track three, ‘Keynote Sparks’, may raise some eyebrows as to its quirkiness, but in fact, packs a groovy but no less nebulous punch. It invites the imagination into some nefarious marketing conference room with a ‘fuck everything attitude’ – is he saying “Get yourself deleted?” or “Get yourself a leader”? 

There’s this constant strain of bashful humor that permeates most of Donnelly’s work and is presented here as a stripped-down version. Like he’s surfing a wave on a line between comedy and tragedy and it may tip to one side or the other at any given moment. 

‘Anthem’ isn’t that radically different from The Figgs’ material, perhaps there’s a touch more of the personable. 

Track 2, ‘Play Music’ spoke to me the most, probably because I’m a musician myself, but the charm of the song is that Donnelly is making it ok for anyone to play music, representative of that beautiful cross-over between power-pop and punk. “When you don’t know what to do, play music,” Donnelly half-croons.

The entire EP feels like a timestamp of a very immediate and specific point in time, there’s a sense of urgency to it, and it’s one of those records you may find yourself unexpectedly or accidentally playing. 

By track 4, ‘The Opposite Side’, Donnelly enters a little more sombre territory with an introduction of a new instrument, what sounds to me to be a tape analog synthesizer. His ability to write beautiful and poignant lyrics shines through here too: 

“The declining sun fell on the wall

Like the ending credits before nightfall

And then in spite of it all

another sound that which goes and is gone”

And the chorus goes: “And a tear falls down on the opposite side of your face.” The mysterious imagery that these words spark creates an alluring notion that perhaps we don’t know what’s on the opposite side, and perhaps the best is yet to come.

‘Half the time it Takes’, the final track, is a short one, featuring beautiful guitar picking reminiscent of McCartney’s ‘Blackbird’. Once again, an appreciation for the unknown triumph over the cynical and angry.   

Give that place of innocence some time to come out of the jail of adulthood and have some fun cleaning your cluttered house or dancing around like an unchained maniac. 

But best of all, allow yourself the permission to have fun again, that is certainly what Pete Donnelly did with ‘Anthem of the Time’. 

You can buy it and stream it here.

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