Autolux AutoluxTransit Transit
ATP Like many other groups this year, although they aren’t nearly as established as they would like to be, Autolux celebrates its tenth birthday in 2010. They’re aging gracefully: they are going slowly, dotting their i’s and crossing their t’s. With this, their second studio LP, the Los Angeles trio confirm how good we sensed they might be in “Future Perfect” (2004), proving they are a band with a powerful lash and solid rock structure. Six years have gone by since then. Six hard years, in which they felt uprooted and alone. When their previous label DMZ (property of godfather T Bone Burnett and the Coen brothers) closed its doors, they found themselves in conflict with Sony, to whom they were irremediably tied, and who obligated them to record something easier to put out than their first work. They aren’t one of those bands that sell themselves to the highest bidder and so, indignant and misunderstood, they decided to send the company some bizarre, extraterrestrial jams that there was no way to get a handle on as a sample of their new album. In this way, they got out of the deal and freed themselves from the record company. Since then they have been looking for a new home for the new work that they have spent months working on, and which they say has opened up a lot of sound possibilities for the future, without losing the steam of their beginnings. A transition album, then? Just listening to it, I wouldn’t say that so clearly, but in view of their declarations and the title of the album, it seems fairly clear.
In the sound, the transition, as we said, isn’t entirely clear. But as far as how (un)comfortable the group feels inside the skin of their new songs, we can see here a different eagerness and audacity, they are more diaphanous in their focus on the battle field. The genes inherited from Can and Jimi Hendrix spurred on in the EP “Demonstration” are far removed today. They’re still in their blood, but “Transit Transit” slightly touches up the style in a manner that, although directly linked with 90’s emblems, overwhelms with its weight and specificity. The most heavily-branded mark is that of Sonic Youth, written in bold print on songs like “Census” and “Supertoys”, songs written a thousand and one times by the New York band, but also fabulously valid and tough. These are songs that make us think that we are looking at one of the best students of the New York band (at least in clear competition with Blonde Redhead, a trio that is similar to them even in the luxurious air of their promo photos). Another evident anchor could be Radiohead: Thom Yorke’s group, apart from isolated splinters like the basses of “Highchair” or the piano of “Spots”, is also similar in the marked contrast that it gives to the whole line of the album, alternating continuously between loveliness and violence. It’s also not out of line to mention the influence of an album, the best of 2008, that one can tell that they have studied carefully, and which it is about time that we begin to see reflected in some group. We’re talking about “Third” ( Portishead): one can trace its influence in the metallic fabric behind which “The Bouncing Wall” is hidden, or in the turning of the blades of the song “Transit Transit”.
But even though nothing can be ruder than imitating your own accomplices, Autolux holds onto its influences with an exquisite tact, a sincerity that makes it impossible to give them the cold shoulder. In their music, the influences aren’t disguised or covered up. On the contrary, they brag about them. The album revolves around a melee of memories (to which the characteristic post-punk and shoegaze ardour, and a little post-hardcore sleep in their eyes have to be added), but over the course of the second half of the album, the single “Audience nº 2”, “Kissproof” and “Headless Sky”, the songs pride themselves on searching for a real “Autolux sound,” a sound that ends up presented as cleaner and more hygienic than anything on “Future Perfect”.
In general, all of the songs have been perfected to the max, tested over and over again in the concerts they have given over the years. They present themselves as sober and serious, splashed with details that can only embellish them, bathed in colours like indigo and violet. In this way they give shape to a heavy, thoughtful rock album in which quality predominates over quantity. A dangerous album, as sharp as an ice pick, it helps the Los Angeles group solidify this air of the unbreakable band that they seek. They declare that “indie rock bands don’t interest us at all,” and this isn’t surprising: Autolux clearly represents the paradigm of the indie rock group that precisely for this reason becomes mysterious, as if they were hiding the solution to an enigma that remains to be discovered. It’s time for Autolux to stop limiting themselves to opening for indie stars, and for someone to send them on tour under decent conditions once and for fucking all. For some, seeing them dissect their magnificent songs live would be like going into an operating room, or into the cockpit of an airplane: a luxury bathed in a cold sweat.
Cristian Rodríguez Autolux - Census
Autolux - Supertoys [aka. Let it be Broken] (From the Basement)