It’s fitting that Move In Spectrums, the new album by Au Revoir Simone, should open with the words “It’s been a long time coming / A long time gone away”. Four-and-a-bit years have passed since the Brooklyn trio last released a full-length record, the breakthrough Still Night, Still Light.
Not that anyone in full possession of the facts could accuse the band of slacking in the intervening period. Annie Hart (who, like her two bandmates, plays keyboards and sings) has had a baby; Erika Forster released a solo EP under the name Erika Spring; while Heather D’Angelo returned to university to complete her degree in Environmental Biology.
Taking that amount of time off between albums is always a bit of a risk and that’s especially true for a band like Au Revoir Simone. Theirs is a lovely sound but it’s not a particularly distinctive one: the combination of female vocals and gauzy synth pop and shoegaze textures is a sound that’s been mined in recent years by Purity Ring, Trembling Bells, Chairlift and Class Actress to name just four acts. As it happens, Forster has performed in a covers band with members of the latter two groups. Anyone coming to Au Revoir Simone afresh might consider them derivative, but that would be deeply unfair.
Fortunately, Move In Spectrums is strong enough to ensure that Au Revoir Simone won’t be cast aside amid the throng of bands who now occupy their territory. Perhaps the record’s strongest suit is the lushness of its production: having three keyboardists in one’s band might seem like overkill, but it pays off here – Move In Spectrums is a clockwork jewellery box of glimmering, whirring and purring synths.
The songs are pretty good, too. More Than, with its gradually building tempo and genuine sense of drama, is the perfect curtain-raiser. Crazy is a joyous pop song that shares the same careering spirit as Phoenix’s Second To None. Graviton and the Chairlift-esque Somebody Who carry a sexy swagger that we’ve not really heard from the previously demure Au Revoir Simone.
Move In Spectrums is a very good record but it’s not a great one. The reason for this is quite simple: the album is lacking the one absolute killer track that would elevate the album to a higher status. As it is, Move In Spectrums stands at the precipice of brilliance. Perhaps if Au Revoir Simone were to build on their re-discovered momentum and not leave such a long gap before their next release, they might make it there next time. For now, though, Move In Spectrums will do nicely.