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The Autumns
Fake Noise From A Box Of Toys
Bella Union Records
www.theautumns.com


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.

-Embo Blake

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