Autumn's Grey Solace's third album is the step forward that the duo needed to make after its enjoyable but still strongly derivative earlier efforts. Something about Shades of Grey -- whether it's the brighter, more direct arrangements, Erin Welton's more varied and accomplished vocals, the way the album packs in a lot over a short period of time, or something more than that -- something that combines it all -- has finally set Welton and Scott Ferrell on their own course. Certainly the roots are clear throughout (in amusing ways sometimes -- "Fodderwing" might well be the best song title the Cocteau Twins never used), but the sense of Shades of Grey is one of excitement and experimentation, building on the past instead of revisiting it. Songs like the title track, with its quick, easygoing grace, and "In the Darkest Night" hint at the same post-goth sensibilities that animated the sprightlier side of acts like the Smashing Pumpkins, less tortured than atmospherically warm. Also, the band seriously rocks out more than ever before -- the initial gloom guitar slabs on "Cold Sea" turn into a dramatic, huge chorus, approaching that point that groups like the Gathering have done from an opposite but similar direction (even the solo insanity works in a sudden '80s flashback vein). Other songs like "Angel of Light" throw in similarly fierce approaches but there's plenty of elegant texture throughout the album, up to and including the slow, mesmerizing closer "Still." Some songs don't quite gel as they could -- "Last Tear"'s swooping vocals are more weirdly unsettling than captivating (which could certainly be the point) -- but they're small setbacks on a really enjoyable, invigorating release.
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett