Autolux : Transit Transit
Six years ago, Autolux unleashed one of 2004’s most thrilling experimental alt-rock records with the release of their debut album,Future Perfect. Among their followers was Trent Reznor who invited the LA trio on Nine Inch Nails’ 2005 US tour.
The six year wait for Future Perfect’s follow-up, however, had more to do with record company dilemmas than a tortured creative process; although, in hindsight, the time proved rewarding. Fortunately, a new signing to ATP – following an invitation from The Flaming Lips to perform at last year’s All Tomorrow’s Parties – finally saw their sophomore album, Transit Transit, unveiled to an expectant international audience.
With their experimental and eclectic sound encompassing ‘90s shoegaze, krautrock and post-punk, Autolux’s reverb/distortion-drenched riffs, expressive laments on alienation and emancipation, and fearless noise-pop soundscapes possess more than fleeting comparisons to Can, Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, and The Smashing Pumpkins. But while Future Perfect emphasised the undeniably strong musicianship of its members, their second album delivers much more by way of a strengthened vision, meticulous production, and more direct songwriting.
Transit Transit opens, fittingly, with a classic snarling lament from breathy lead vocalist and bassist Eugene Goreshter: “One more lonely fascist loser... the golden age of feeling nothing”. The album’s hazy, otherworldly soundscapes confound in its eclecticism: it’s defined by cyclical mechanical beats, eerie vocals and wailing trumpets on Transit Transit’s ambient opener; unleashed broodingly in Census’ sinister guitar lines courtesy of Greg Edwards and the penetrating percussive force of Carla Azar. Highchair, however, eclipses the latter with its insidious bass lines and exotic synth workouts lending to an intoxicating rhythm substratum.
The Silversun Pickups-invoking Supertoys (Let It Be Broken) encompasses a chugging anthemic grandeur while maintaining an insidious urgency. In an intriguing shifting of dynamics, the album’s middle tracks unveil a delicate and subtler Autolux as the intimacy of its minimalism is expressed through looser percussion, mournful keys, sparser atmospherics and a more pensive, airy modulation. Conversely, menacing guitar tones and stark percussive rhythms drive the darkly hypnotism of Audience No. 2, in which Goreshter wails: “in between the thinking and the saying/threw away what I can’t believe/tell me how you lose this feeling”.
Autolux’s compositions have always emerged from exploring mood and atmosphere, divulging the melody within dissonance, and marrying the elusive importance of space with dense production, but it’s their self-produced sophomore album that adjoins – most compellingly – instrumental ambition and emotive, melodic aptitude, which will resultantly draw in a multitude of new fans.