Transit Transit

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The Los Angeles trio Autolux sound like a band out of time. Their first album from 2004, Future Perfect, should have been called “Past Perfect” for the nifty way it channeled the good parts of the '80s/'90s indie rock scene like loud/soft dynamic shifts, murkily distorted guitars, and lazed-out vocals. Six years later, the band is still looking backward on the follow-up Transit Transit. This time out, the mood is decidedly more downbeat and the focus is more on creating an overall feeling where the songs blend together in a haze of somber vocals, layered guitars, and rolling drums. The group has pretty much tuned out all their influences except for shoegazers like My Bloody Valentine, the Pale Saints, and the Swirlies. What makes the album more than just some pointless exercise in revivalism are the elements the trio add to the shoegaze sound (subtle electronics, restraint), the care they take with arrangements, and the overall strength of the songs and performances. Drummer Carla Azar, in particular, shows off some impressive skills, whether pounding her way through the uptempo tracks or adding atmosphere on the more restrained songs. The way her sweetly sung vocals combine and contrast with the gruffer vocals of her bandmates is nice, too, it’s another trademark shoegaze element that the band does extremely well. As for the songs, there isn’t a standout or a potential single. Instead, there is a string of songs fit together like puzzle pieces that casts a spell of moody overcast. Quiet ballads like the piano-led "Spots" or woozy "The Bouncing Wall" offset the noisier, more distorted tracks like "Kiss Proof" and "Census" perfectly. If anything, the album could have used another couple of loud, lunging rockers, but that might have sacrificed the overall mood for a few moments of transient sonic pleasure. As it stands, Transit Transit is a beautifully executed work that would have made the band solid contenders if it had been released back in 1992. It’s just as impressive in 2010, though it may struggle to find an appreciative audience.

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