The best contemporary punk records often feel as though they are able to wipe 40-odd years of history from the table with one grotty swipe, finding fresh purpose in speed, snot and power chords. Little Green House, the debut album from Connecticut quintet Anxious, possesses flashes of this energy but it really comes alive when investigating the other end of the spectrum, where the genre nerds and tragics roam.
Vocalist Grady Allen and guitarist Ryan Savitski have recent form in being able to take old blueprints and buff them to a fresh shine after putting out one of 2021’s best hardcore records with their other band One Step Closer, on that occasion fusing swatches of youth crew fervour with knotty shoegaze. Here, in concert with guitarist Dante Melucci, bassist Sam Allen, and drummer Jonny Camner, they offer up a scrapbook featuring some of American punk’s best recent moves, from the uncut solo-Bob Mould riffage of “Your One Way Street” through some Texas is the Reason worship and a side of the glossy post-hardcore that briefly threatened to make Finch an arena band 20 years ago.
Tying the whole thing together, and preventing it from getting too bookish in its many nods and references, are full-throttle performances as well as its production job by The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die guitarist Chris Teti at Silver Bullet Studios, that prioritizes punchy leads and hairpin melodic switches. Allen is an expressive, whole-hearted vocalist with sharp pop instincts that are buttressed by intelligent guitar lines, creating an anthemic push-pull dynamic on tracks such as “Growing Up Song.”
There’s something in that song title, too. Zooming out, Little Green House is a record about change and personal evolution, but it’s grounded in the familiarity of youth, giving the whole thing a realistic, granular edge beyond its genre trappings. Anxious have been a band since its members were in high school and they wrote this album in Allen’s mother’s basement—these ties offer a sharp counterpoint to the many reframings and endings in the lyrics, preventing its soul-searching from becoming off-the-shelf navelgazing.
Label: Run For Cover
Huw Baines is a freelance music writer with past bylines in the Guardian, Guitar Magazine, Vice, Clash, and elsewhere.