PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

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.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.


In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.


The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.


The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.


The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.


When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.


20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.


The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.


Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.


Kimm Rogers' "Lie" Is an Unapologetically Political Tune (premiere)

San Diego's Kimm Rogers taps into frustration with truth-masking on "Lie". "What I found most frustrating was that no one would utter the word 'lie'."


50 Years Ago B.B. King's 'Indianola Mississippi Seeds' Retooled R&B

B.B. King's passion for bringing the blues to a wider audience is in full flower on the landmark album, Indianola Mississippi Seeds.


Filmmaker Marlon Riggs Knew That Silence = Death

In turning the camera on himself, even in his most vulnerable moments as a sick and dying man, filmmaker and activist Marlon Riggs demonstrated the futility of divorcing the personal from the political. These films are available now on OVID TV.


The Human Animal in Natural Labitat: A Brief Study of the Outcast

The secluded island trope in films such as Cast Away and television shows such as Lost gives culture a chance to examine and explain the human animal in pristine, lab like, habitat conditions. Here is what we discover about Homo sapiens.


Bad Wires Release a Monster of a Debut with 'Politics of Attraction'

Power trio Bad Wires' debut Politics of Attraction is a mix of punk attitude, 1990s New York City noise, and more than a dollop of metal.


'Waiting Out the Storm' with Jeremy Ivey

On Waiting Out the Storm, Jeremy Ivey apologizes for present society's destruction of the environment and wonders if racism still exists in the future and whether people still get high and have mental health issues.


Matt Berninger Takes the Mic Solo on 'Serpentine Prison'

Serpentine Prison gives the National's baritone crooner Matt Berninger a chance to shine in the spotlight, even if it doesn't push him into totally new territory.


MetalMatters: The Best New Heavy Metal Albums of September 2020

Oceans of Slumber thrive with their progressive doom, grind legends Napalm Death make an explosive return, and Anna von Hausswolff's ambient record are just some of September's highlights.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

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