The most difficult thing about doing a writeup about The Autumns self-titled LP is to be objective. I have been a fan since 1998, and never have they released a song that I didn't love. It's hard for me to take five years of my life, put it on the shelf, and keep it there, while explaining my opinion of this record without having to take anything off of the shelf.
But, I will try...
The dry nature of In The Russet Gold of This Vain Hour is still present, but rather than tinny and dismal, it has seemingly fused with the uplifting beauty of Le Carillon. It could possibly be a sequel to Russet Gold, and one of those rare sequels that are actually better than the original!
Fans of the early works, Suicide at Strell Park and The Angel Pool, will not find anything more than a trace of those elements in these songs. It's not that they have abandoned that sound. Simply put, it's back to basics for The Autumns, as they have toned down the shoegaze sensibilities. You will not find another "Eskimo Swim" in it's duration, but if you loved Winter in A Silver Box, you will immediately grown fond of this sound, as their shoegaze sound has evolved into a wall of noise [which they control effortlessly]. And, the atmosphere and etherial mood come more from the dexterity and skill of their playing, rather than relying on studio effects. Not to say there aren't any use of studio effects. It's just that the studio was nothing more than a tool to enhance what was already there.
It's almost appropriate for this record to be self-titled. It's not exactly the sum of all of their elements. They present some new tricks as well. There's harmonization as lovely as anything Brian Wilson has composed in tracks like "De'sole". Use of orchestration, and even a trace of a keyboard, has become a bigger part of the compositions in tracks like "Flies in the Eyes of the Queen". The acoustic guitar is used in "Every Sunday Sky" and "Cattleya", in a percussive manner, and sparingly--more of an effect rather than making the tune an acoustic number. The usage of violin is stunning, in combination with a piano melody and an E-bow tugging at your heart in "The Moon Softly Weeps a Lullaby". Not only are the compositions stunning, bit it is obvious that they have improved as musicians. They were always great, so it is astounding that they could top what they have already done. It's as if they were hungry to prove that they are pros. And, the point has been made and underlined.
Most of all, some of these numbers flow together so effortlessly. It's as if the record was divided into several sections, as each number in it's section is uniform with it's counterparts. But, this is not a prog rock album, as much as it is a concept record. Whatever the concept may be is open to interpretation, as with most tracks from The Autumns. "Slumberdoll", "Edmond & Edward", and "Wish Stars" serve as the climactic set of the album. Not since the Small Faces released Ogden's Nut Gone Flake, have a band told a story on a record, using the music as the main storyteller. And, by the end of the record, you will not realize that you have just listened to 13 tracks, as this hour was just as golden, but not at all in vain.
This record stands out from the rest of their catalog. Some will say it's the sum of their catalog. Some will say they have taken their music to the next level. Their past is not obsolete, but more or less the platform meant to elevate them. Even in a decade's time, they have yet to scratch the surface of their potential. But at this point in time, The Autumns have the right idea, as they have finally released their first true masterpiece.
It has been said that there will be another record from The Autumns someday. An EP, Jacqueline, will be released in the near future. And, if they get better and better, like they always have, I cannot fathom what's ahead, but continue to be amazed at the sound they offer us.
The Autumns represents a defining moment in their careers, and essential to any living person with 20/20 hearing.