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Au

Au

(Oedipus; US: 26 Jun 2007; UK: Available as import)

My instincts tell me that I should like this. I like Akron/Family, after all, and of all the freaky folk-styled bands out there, Akron/Family’s not a bad one to sound like, which Au’s self-titled debut often does. Even so, getting through the 34 minutes or so of Au always feels like a letdown. For its first half, Au actually sounds like it has a chance—opener “Boute” is an intriguing mix of flowing pianos and deathly flat, hollowed-out vocals, though it has a huge “la la la la la” break in the middle of it that pretty much makes the song. After hearing it a few times, it’s easy to find yourself wishing the “la la la"s would show up until they do, the point after which you start wishing they’d come back. “Sum” appropriately adds together a whole bunch of rather noisy (in the traditionally instrumental sense) elements to create a sea of barely-organized chaos, while “Shelter” is a pretty and ethereal mix of extended synth chords and piano melodies. Perhaps fittingly, it’s “Death” that throws the album off-track, itself a tuneless, floating piece of too-intentionally artsy space junk. After “Death”, it’s hard to take anything else seriously. It’s too bad, because Au’s Luke Wyland seems to have the right idea, with his commitment to individuality and willingness to go where his muse takes him; regrettably, that muse isn’t quite ready for prime time, and the result is an album for which “interesting” is the greatest compliment available.

Rating:

Mike Schiller is a software engineer in Buffalo, NY who enjoys filling the free time he finds with media of any sort -- music, movies, and lately, video games. Stepping into the role of PopMatters Multimedia editor in 2006 after having written music and game reviews for two years previous, he has renewed his passion for gaming to levels not seen since his fondly-remembered college days of ethernet-enabled dorm rooms and all-night Goldeneye marathons. His three children unconditionally approve of their father's most recent set of obsessions.


Tagged as: au | experimental | folk | luke wyland
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On Both Lights, AU blends minimalist impulses with dramatic pop dynamics and flavor. It's the recipe for some great songs, but an inconsistent album experience.
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The second album for this experimental collective is the most surprisingly pleasant left-field pop gem of 2008.
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