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Despite striking gold in this setting, the band members don't prefer to sketch early drafts in compressed quarters, which means the bulk of their next album's material will be composed after they return from an August/September voyage to England, Amsterdam and Germany and a late-autumn indoor-venue barnstorming tour with their Vagrant labelmates.
"We're already talking about doing some crazy stuff," Pope teases. "We all listen to so many different records so frequently, and that's just given us a whole new way of doing things."
Similarly, the Anniversary's open-to-anything approach has given observers of the Kansas City scene a whole new way of looking at the area's bands. Whereas it was once convenient to diagnose the most visible local bands, describe the symptoms (irregularly heartfelt vocals, abnormally cheerful keys) and conclude that the whole region had been infected by the emo epidemic, puzzled detractors will now detect signs of multiple-personality disorder. Opinions about specific stylistic switches aside, it might be refreshing to be part of a scene known for its willingness to experiment. Besides, to paraphrase an aphorism about Missouri weather, if you don't like the Anniversary's current sound, just wait a few months.
Those Muddling Kids
While the Anniversary's royally remodeled sound has inspired critics at several national publications to bow reverently, other writers were moved to regicide. Ron Richards and David Brown, editors-in-chief and publishers of the quirky bicoastal zine Muddle, tag-teamed the disc with harsh insults (Richards: "a horrible emo meets classic rock hybrid"; Brown: "This band used to be fun. Now they're just unoriginal") before adding the injury. After attempting to set the disc on fire to no avail ("CDs are surprisingly flame-retardant," Richards notes), the Muddle staff obliterated Your Majesty under the wheel of a moving car. A photo essay documents this demolition derby.
Your Majesty isn't the only disc to receive a scathing review in the spring 2002 issue; in fact, Brown's write-up seems relatively tame compared with the lashings he and his staff give dozens of inept hardcore outfits and weepy emo knockoffs. Nonetheless, Muddle issued a death sentence.
"After a discussion among the staff, the Anniversary was nominated based on how crappy the record was and what the Anniversary was trying to pull, what with the entryway through emo and then turning into classic rock," Richards says. "The trend these days has bands slowing down and playing classic rock," Brown adds. "After hearing Your Majesty, it's no surprise that the group would pose for a photo shoot in bell-bottoms and '60s outfits. Come on guys, you might be fooling Rolling Stone, but not Muddle."
Like Buddyhead's Travis Keller and others who have been less than impressed by Kansas City's big-name bands, Brown and Richards maintain they have nothing against the scene as a whole. (Positive reviews of mi6 and Kill Creek discs in the same issue prove as much.) "I'm a big fan of the Get Up Kids," Brown says. "And Second Nature (Coalesce, the Casket Lottery) is one of the best labels around." Although he authorized Your Majesty's smash-hit-and-run, Brown says it's nothing personal. "I respect the fact that they enjoy making music, and as long as they are having fun with what they do, that's fine by me."