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.
// Notes from the Road
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