Autolux – Future Perfect Review

The entity known as Autolux has had quite a trajectory since they formed three years ago. Featuring ex-members of Ednaswap and the severely underrated Failure, they have been a heavily buzzed band in their home base of Los Angeles. They self-released an e.p., Demonstration, which garnered critical praise and a bidding war. Expertly fusing the best elements of early-90’s alt-rock including My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, and Smog, they became the first act signed to DMZ Records, a label headed by the Coen Brothers and their running mate T-Bone Burnett. After a couple of start-stops (including a career threatening injury to drummer Carla Azar) and countess file traded on the internet, they release Future Perfect at a time when the indie sound is beginning to get saturated with post-punk also-rans.

Autolux’s sound and structure are reminiscent of “Goo”-era Sonic Youth. And like many bands affected by the NY foursome, including Blonde Redhead and Clinic, Autolux have a keen understanding of noise manipulation, and when and where those sounds should go. Eugene [Goreshter, bass and vocals} and Greg [Andrews, guitar] compliment each other nicely with their bleeding array of pedal’s and delays. It is Carla’s drumming, however, that keeps the madness together. The random drum rolls and fills she adds to “The Great Passenger Element,’ a dreamy number held by a consistent guitar strum, keeps the listener just a little off balance, which is a recurring theme throughout the album. She is whom you hear first on “Turnstile Blues,” the album opener, a start-stop hard snare roll that brings to mind a drunk stumbling down the stairs. Fittingly, the song closes with the same beat, now awash in guitar feedback and squall.

The songs lock into a groove, and do not let go. Most songs have at least two endings, but they never get repetitive. The climax on “Sugarless,” an ascending/descending drone filled with feedback and a childlike chorus of “do, do, do, do,” is the mental soundtrack of someone dancing off a building. “Blanket” is a punk blast of distorted bass and alternative tuned guitars and is the most direct song on the record.

The songs create a tension and separation between the group and the listener. This anti-social dread permeates to the outside world, creating a division between the listener and the rest of society. Future Perfect fits nicely between OK Computer and Kid A, with the only difference being Radiohead isn’t this apathetic. One could hardly imagine Thom Yorke singing, “Impossible day/I don’t complain/I’m over it I guess.” Future Perfect works both on crowded streets, headphones clinging tight your ears, and in darkly lit rooms, collecting the events of the day. Unity through separation. The only song that betrays this theme is “Asleep at the Trigger.” However, despite its call to “hit me you’re your smile again,” it works perfectly within the framework of the album. A rudimentary beat made complete with a repetitive toy piano note, Carla’s delicate voice counterbalances well against Greg and Eugene’s guitars (as it also does on “Sugarless” and “Here Comes Everybody”). After eight songs of guarded observation, her admission that “it kinda brings me down” is a surprise turn while remaining one step away from the listener.

“Trigger” is indicative of the second half of Future Perfect, which moves away from harsher pedal sounds and takes a softer, shoegazer aura. “Plantlife” maintains a mid-tempo strum before pushing off the mainland into a sea of reverb and whirr. Closer “Capital Kind of Strain” is a wistful conclusion to an album that started sharp and precise and then floats away like the balloons on the album cover.