Autolux blends past and future
It’s been six long years since Autolux first dropped “Future Perfect,’’ a debut that, in the midst of 2004’s wave of tight-panted, electro-inspired post-post-punk, arrived like an unexpected gift from the ’90s. With it, an entire demographic of indie-rockers weaned on and subsequently starved of the tenets of shoegaze (wild sprays of guitar, swirling boy/girl vocals, and dramatic buildups rivaled by endless drones) had their hopes lifted — and left there. So “Transit Transit’’ isn’t just an album; it’s an olive branch extended over some serious abandonment issues.
Then again, if Autolux was a decade late for shoegaze’s sweet spot, it only makes sense that the group’s next logical step — the bold, relentlessly arresting 42 minutes of “Transit Transit’’ — took six years. Those half-hoping for “Future Perfect Pt. 2’’ will be richly satisfied: “Census’’ reassuringly reintroduces Eugene Goreshter’s airy falsettos and lurching bass lines, drummer Carla Azar’s thudding, tasteful precision, and Greg Edwards’s spindly Sonic-Youthful guitars. The band’s melodies still sound like they’re wilting in the heat (“Supertoys’’), and it still manages to make restraint rock (most profoundly on “Highchair’’).
But “Transit Transit’’ is most rewarding for its curveballs. The unexpectedly slinky title track finds Goreshter coolly crooning over a distant-sounding upright piano, a ghostly chorus, and big blooms of brass. Electronic flourishes — like a diving stripe of bass in “Headless Sky’’ and the warbling loop in the background of “The Bouncing Wall’’ — make refreshing additions to the recipe. And if you weren’t expecting an Autolux album, period, you certainly aren’t expecting “Spots,’’ on which Goreshter’s lilting vocal and moody piano split the difference between Thom Yorke and John Lennon.
With its deft blend of nostalgia and futurism, “Transit Transit’’ is not only a fantastic delivery on a forgotten promise, it’s the best reason so far to be optimistic about 2016. (Out now)
Autolux play the Middle East Downstairs on August 27.