Album Reviews

A Sunny Day in Glasgow – Autumn, Again

on October 28, 2010, 7:59am
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Basking in the sprightly, reverb-drenched aesthetic of Cocteau Twins, Ride, and My Bloody Valentine, A Sunny Day in Glasgow‘s Autumn, Again owes a great debt to the UK rock scene of the ’80s. But, buried underneath those enveloping, slapback sounds is the band’s sense of modernity, as well; pulsing electro-rhythms and austere monosynths rival leader Ben Daniels’ chorus-heavy guitar clangs throughout, even taking prominence at some points. The album is comprised of the final material from the prolific Ashes Grammar sessions, so it’s unsurprising that the content here is largely consistent with what came before. That collection, while a tad long, nevertheless garnered the band some international respect, overflowing with tasteful experiments in shoegaze, new wave, and lo-fi revivalism. Autumn, Again carries on that legacy, except the band edited down the script to just over 30 minutes this time, enhancing their pop sensibilities along the way.

The album begins with the Eno-esque title track, which features no more than a shimmering, looped guitar melody and the hovering warmth of a synth pad, recalling the Brian Reitzell and Roger Joseph Manning Jr. score for Lost in Translation. “Fall in Love” follows with a cacophony of clattering drums, synthesized bleeps and bloops, and a guitar overridden with chorus before the voices of new singers Annie Frederickson and Jen Goma weave in and out of each other to listless effect. This hazy, manipulated interplay constitutes the vocal delivery method for the majority of the record, although discernible lyrics do percolate through at times. It’s clear, though, that the idea was to create an impressionistic tapestry more than a sharply drawn collection of pop songs. And, to that extent, the band has succeeded.

Elsewhere, “Sigh, Inhibitionist (Come All Day With Me)”, “Moments on the Lawn”, “Drink, Drank, Drunk”, and “This Assclown Eats Ambien OR Nobody Likes You (No Art)” comprise the strongest cuts on the record. The first and third of that series embody the band’s multi-layered, lush allegiance to the aforementioned cult acts, while “Moments …” stands out as a taut IDM gem that could’ve easily landed on Lotus Plaza’s delightfully woozy Floodlight Collective record in early 2009. Naturally, “This Assclown …” deserves a sentence all its own simply by way of its title, but its blown out slide guitar and somnolent, lullaby-like vocals are noteworthy just the same.

Closing out the collection, “100/0 (Snowdays Forever)” is the band’s most conventional take on the Thatcher-era British sound they so clearly admire. Initially feeling safe and out of step with the experimental songs prior, its romanticism and familiarity eventually won me over. To be sure, ASDiG has an affinity for the obscure, but Daniels and his cohorts show here they’re just as capable of writing within more accessible parameters. It doesn’t hurt, of course, that Frederickson and Goma can sing well, to boot, a trait Daniels would do well to occasionally emphasize more than conceal.

It goes without saying that ASDiG are not the only modern band referencing melancholy rock music born of the UK in the ’80s, but they’re undoubtedly one of the more compelling acts from that ilk. Indeed, instead of simply carbon copying that look and sound, they’ve filtered these influences through an ambient, lo-fi experimentalism that makes for a peculiarly pleasing listen. In the process, with Ashes Grammar and now Autumn, Again, they’ve added to that mythological narrative instead of tarnishing its legacy.

Note: The band is giving the album away for free. Physical collectors will be delighted to know there’s a limited edition pressing of the record on vinyl. However, there will be no CD.
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