Modern rock is still absorbing the initial impact of Sunny Day Real Estate, the unassuming Seattle band that in 1994 brought a sense of grandeur to a scene still mired in grunge, and still swatting away clouds of hungry A&R men. It's really just now, with albums like My Chemical Romance's emo-prog powerhouse The Black Parade, that Sunny Day's striving for transcendence has begun bubbling up to the mainstream. As for Sunny Day's spiritual leader Jeremy Enigk, he's still trying to find his footing in a movement he helped create, though with his new solo album World Waits, he seems to have decided he's most comfortable at the front of his pack.
World Waits opens with the bombastic orchestral overture "A New Beginning," then contradicts the sentiment with "Been Here Before," which sets Enigk's voice soaring over martial drums and ringing guitars. World Waits wears its Peter Gabriel and Sigur Rós influences openly, in epic-sounding songs that come and go briskly, following tumbling melodies into open spaces with lots of shade. Enigk shows too much of a salvation complex, and World Waits isn't recommended to people who can't tolerate pomposity, but the album's trump card is Enigk's still-arresting voice, which floats easily over the ballad "River To Sea" and cuts hard through the anthem "Burn," leaving nothing in reserve.
Those interested in hearing the next generation of Sunny Day Real Estate-style yearners should try Annuals' debut album, Be He Me, which blends calming, hypnotic indie-rock with all-in basement-pop, creating something simultaneously uplifting and harsh. The band's disjointed approach coheres as Be He Me unfolds, moving from the chopped-up "Chase You Off" to the catchy, clean African-styled exercises "The Bull And The Goat" and "Mama." Bandleader Adam Baker is a little scattered, and he doesn't share Enigk's vocal talent, but Be He Me teems with ideas and possibilities. Annuals could have disciples of their own soon.