I am a Cocteau Twins fanboy. I hang out on the mailing list and talk with other fans. Early in 2000 there was some buzz about this band. Apparently they backed CT bassist Simon Raymonde on a short solo tour he did on the West Coast. And then they recorded a cover version of Garlands, with Mr. Raymonde producing. And then he produced this album for them, and Bella Union, the label owned by Mr. Raymonde, starting carrying Autumns albums.
So i ordered this album online in, oh, April. Bella Union was sold out. So i tried again in August. Again, sold out. I had scoured Atlanta record stores for a copy to no avail. I couldn't find an online retailer that had a copy. It was quite frustrating.
Then i casually mention on a listserv that i would like to get a copy, and a buddy says "Oh, the record station i work at has two copies! I can get the other one and sell it to you cheap." It's about time.
So he mails it to me, and i go and fetch it from the Post Office, and that same day i go record shopping with Tracers. And what do i find, two other Autumns releases sitting in a used bin. So, after months of searching, i hit the motherload all at once.
And all i have to say is, it was worth the wait. In The Russet Gold Of This Vain Hour is a sublimely beautiful album. The guitars swirl and then rise to dueling arpeggios. Vocalist Matthew Kelly mutters and breathes deeply the soulful lyrics. The rhythm drives the songs along quite nicely, not in a way that you would want to dance to, but more in a way that you might tap your foot to or sway along with.
There are many many high points on this album. Unfolding and Fading is a great little tune with swirly guitars. June In Her Frost And Fur starts with a wonderful guitar intro. But i think the real stunner is Bicycle which features arpeggioed guitars and strings to create a soft dreamy feeling.
On the whole, this is a nice, spring-like album. It's reminiscent of sunny days when it hasn't gotten too hot yet, and you can go outside and walk or play frisbee and not be instantly drenched in sweat. It's for slightly chillier nights, sitting on a patio with a marguerita and talking with friends. It's optimistic.
And i think it will appeal to a wide range of people. Even though Malimus is not exactly ecstatic about this shoegazer stuff i play for him, i think that even he would find some of their melodies worthwhile.
I only have two criticisms, and they aren't necessarily that bad depending on your viewpoint. First, at times Matthew Kelly gets a little whiney in a Robert Smith sort of way. Not to say that he sounds like Mr. Smith, buy rather that his voice gets a little high-pitched and hits some notes that i associate with "goth music sung by men". This only happens every once in a while, and it never lasts a whole song -- it's just the occasional note here and there. However, i know that sort of thing really bothers some people, so i feel it necessary to warn you. Secondly, well, just look at the album title. It's a little on the pretentious side. The Autumns obviously take themselves very seriously. Again, that might not be a problem for you. However, if you are really into "keeping it real on tha streets" then this might not be the band for you.
That said, i give this seven sponges. Go find it: i know it'll be hard to track down (trust me, i know), but it is so worth it!