There are few bands that began their lives during the heyday
of the shoegaze phenomenon that are still in existence after these
nearly two decades. California's The Autumns have weathered
the storm mightily, at once keeping true to their original purpose
while adapting slightly in order to stay relevant in today's music
environment. The elaborately chiming guitars of previous albums
are extant, as are the walls of sound and the steadfast pounding
of the drums. The songs are varied in length on this new record
much more than in the past; intros notwithstanding, there are
tracks just over two minutes in length to just under five. The
varying lengths of songs goes a long way toward keeping the album
sounding fresh, never allowing the ear to become complacent in
its listening. Tracks like "Boys" reflect where the
band is headed, with brash bass lines and rock guitars building
a rhythmic mesh of sound that inevitably leads to a cascade of
noise as the song builds to its somewhat discordant crescendo.
The track is loosely tight, leaving plenty of space for the sounds
to play around each other and accent the space that the vocals
inhabit. Other places the sound is older and ultra-thick, as on
the lengthy "Killer In Drag", one of the most dynamic
songs on the album, that weaves its way behind dense layers of
guitar and sparse verses that jangle along to the rolling drums
and accenting bass. The breakdowns in this track really highlight
the musical capabilities of the band, showcasing at different
times the sheer technical abilities of the drummer, bass player
and guitarists as they trade off taking their turn filling the
aural 'scape. But nowhere is the soul of this band in such stark
evidence as on the softly floating gothic-tinged "Night Music,"
with its softly arpeggiated guitars and shuffling drums that sit
nicely in peace until the thick leads move the song up a notch
in tension. Toy pianos, vibes, and chimes play their parts nicely
as on past records, but are even better placed in the dynamism
of the tracks, creating an essential tension. This is where The
Autumns shine more brightly than their peers; the band creates
an intrinsic and easy tension in their music that is never really
released, but seems rather to be placated into some semblance
of relaxing. Where other bands give the release to the tension
that they've built, The Autumns always leaving you craving just
a little more, hoping beyond hope that there is the kind of happy
ending that we've been programmed to expect. But the soul of the
music is much more real than that, and leaves the listener feeling
life justice has been served but no happiness was truly gained.
This is real life. This is The Autumns.
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