Autistic Daughters: Jealousy and Diamond

Jason MacNeil

Autistic Daughters

Jealousy and Diamond

Label: Kranky
US Release Date: 2004-11-02
UK Release Date: 2004-11-08

Sometimes you get some really freakin' weird albums in the mail that, after the first eight seconds, you look at the clock and realize it will all be over in 40 or 45 minutes. This practice is just as much a blessing as it is a curse at times, depending on whether the album is worth its salt or should be used as a coaster on your new Ikea end table. Autistic Daughters is one of those albums that never lulls the listener to sleep, is never mainstream, and hardly ever boring. The brainchild of Dean Roberts and some of his close friends, Autistic Daughters sounds like the music the children in Sigur Ros's video "Vidrar Vel Til Loftarasa" would be creating now. Minimal, sparse, hushed and dirge-like, the opening "A Boxful of Birds" invites the listener into their evolving and vast array of sound structure and adventurousness. Assisted by Wener Dafeldecker on contra bass and Martin Brandlmayr on drums, the song drags itself along prior to picking itself up and dusting itself off. And whereas other bands would be screaming cut by now, Autistic Daughters are getting warmed up as a haunting series of lyrics and handclaps enter the proceedings.

Autistic Daughters aren't riding anyone's coattails such as Montreal's Godspeed You! Black Emperor or Yo La Tengo. Rather they are taking everything to its lengthy logical conclusion before adding something else on. "Florence Crown, Last Relay" begins with a jazzy bass line that could start off any song by a lounge-stuck chanteuse. But Roberts's vocal, resembling a shy David Byrne, flourishes on this track as the drum brushes kick in. The flow of the song is quite solid as Roberts relies heavily on his supporting cast to keep things on a straight but hardly narrow road. As Roberts repeats one line, Brandlmayr, Dafeldecker and Valerio Tricoli flesh out the hypnotic, trance-inducing tune. Guitars are then deftly added, creating the hue of an early and extremely minimal Velvet Underground circa "Sweet Jane". It's a song that can't be easily duplicated due to all the nuances surrounding it.

Of the seven songs presented on this 50-minute album, perhaps "The Glasshouse and the Gift Horse" is the most accessible to the average rock fan. Roberts begins on guitar before his whispered vocals bring to mind Bryan Ferry if he knew the end was in sight. This quickly morphs into a fuller, Bowie-esque experiment with a harmonium and the backing vocals of Tricoli. A carnival like series of sounds makes the song's tension expand as Roberts sounds more fragile, as if he's on the verge of something either tragic or jubilant. He clings onto this feeling for a series of rich, XTC circa Apple Venus Vol. 1 moments before wrapping it up. This might come off as depressing to some, but for a real downer try "Rainy Day in June" that crawls along like a latter day Lou Reed. Sounding not quite out of tune but not quite in tune either, Roberts sounds as if he's facing something inevitable. "Cherished things are perishing and buried in the tomb," he sings as if he's about to snap.

This dreary drizzle-centric theme continues on "Spend It on the Enemy (While It Was Raining)" although it's not as powerful or mesmerizing as the previous song. Here Roberts sounds like he's ranting more than creating a great song, but again the tone and tempo gets into your blood immediately as psychedelic hues swirl around the conclusion. "In Your Absence from the Street" brings to mind Pink Floyd's The Final Cut with Roger Waters delivering one acerbic and dark line after another. There is more of a moody nature to this song as it seems like Roberts is channeling an early PJ Harvey as the music reaches a fuller, passionate pitch. By the time the title track ends, Autistic Daughters should be playing in the darker recesses of your mind over and over.





The Top 20 Punk Protest Songs for July 4th

As punk music history verifies, American citizenry are not all shiny, happy people. These 20 songs reflect the other side of patriotism -- free speech brandished by the brave and uncouth.


90 Years on 'Olivia' Remains a Classic of Lesbian Literature

It's good that we have our happy LGBTQ stories today, but it's also important to appreciate and understand the daunting depths of feeling that a love repressed can produce. In Dorothy Strachey's case, it produced the masterful Olivia.


Indie Rocker Alpha Cat Presents 'Live at Vox Pop' (album stream)

A raw live set from Brooklyn in the summer of 2005 found Alpha Cat returning to the stage after personal tumult. Sales benefit organizations seeking to end discrimination toward those seeking help with mental health issues.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

‘The Avengers’ Offer a Lesson for Our Time of COVID-19

Whereas the heroes in Avengers: Endgame stew for five years, our grief has barely taken us to the after-credit sequence. Someone page Captain Marvel, please.


Between the Grooves of Nirvana's 'Nevermind'

Our writers undertake a track-by-track analysis of the most celebrated album of the 1990s: Nirvana's Nevermind. From the surprise hit that brought grunge to the masses, to the hidden cacophonous noise-fest that may not even be on your copy of the record, it's all here.


Deeper Graves Arrives via 'Open Roads' (album stream)

Chrome Waves, ex-Nachtmystium man Jeff Wilson offers up solo debut, Open Roads, featuring dark and remarkable sounds in tune with Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus.

Featured: Top of Home Page

The 50 Best Albums of 2020 So Far

Even in the coronavirus-shortened record release schedule of 2020, the year has offered a mountainous feast of sublime music. The 50 best albums of 2020 so far are an eclectic and increasingly "woke" bunch.


First Tragedy, Then Farce, Then What?

Riffing off Marx's riff on Hegel on history, art historian and critic Hal Foster contemplates political culture and cultural politics in the age of Donald Trump in What Comes After Farce?


HAIM Create Their Best Album with 'Women in Music Pt. III'

On Women in Music Pt. III, HAIM are done pretending and ready to be themselves. By learning to embrace the power in their weakest points, the group have created their best work to date.


Amnesia Scanner's 'Tearless' Aesthetically Maps the Failing Anthropocene

Amnesia Scanner's Tearless aesthetically maps the failing Anthropocene through its globally connected features and experimental mesh of deconstructed club, reggaeton, and metalcore.


How Lasting Is the Legacy of the Live 8 Charity Concert?

A voyage to the bottom of a T-shirt drawer prompts a look back at a major event in the history of celebrity charity concerts, 2005's Live 8, Philadelphia.


Jessie Ware Embraces Her Club Culture Roots on Rapturous 'What's Your Pleasure?'

British diva Jessie Ware cooks up a glittery collection of hedonistic disco tracks and delivers one of the year's best records with What's Your Pleasure.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.