It would be easy (and lazy) to equate the music if the Autumns with that of Muse. The case for the prosecution would open with references to Matt Kelly’s soaring vocals, and end with a predilection for gunslinger guitars that indulge in more obscure riffing, rapidly changing moods and less conventional rhythms.
In reality though, the two bands are a long way apart, though both are at a similar stage of development, this being the Autumns’ fourth album. Kelly’s vocals are indeed soaring but there’s a fragility here that lends the songs more vulnerability rather than Muse’s theatrical edge.
Moreover the Autumns have a musical versatility that means the band can turn their attention to almost any style they choose, with more of an acoustic bent often employed. Sure, the opening salvo fires an early, affirmative shot across the bows, and this is where the Matt Bellamy comparisons will start, but as Kelly’s personality asserts itself the backdrop changes markedly.
At times warmly romantic, at times more obviously featureless, his voice shapes the sound while the guitars rumble beneath. The ambitious backdrop seems always to be on the move to the next chord, the next phrase, even the next style. Frequently we seem ready to come face to face with emo but never quite gaze into its blackened eyes.
With further listens the album starts to make a real impression, its changing moods a mirror of daily human emotions and the chord shifts starting to pull at the heartstrings. The thrilling rush of Boys packs more into its guitars with every hearing, while the backing vocals of Clem reveal unexpected influences from the Electric Light Orchestra.
Killer In Drag offers one of many choruses that would reach so deeply in student days and still offer an emotional outlet now. Yet the way in which this chorus isn’t used lazily to form the main focus of the song shows how the Autumns’ style is more readily progressive now, a technique not dissimilar to the best music of Yes.
Before you recoil in horror, it’s worth bearing in mind that after three listens this album will more than likely have you reeled in with the pull of its harmonies, its memorable chorus hooks and crucially its lyrics – occasionally more than a little strange but usually easy to latch on to.
The Autumns provide rock on a grand scale – but allow the wall of guitars to part so that we can glimpse the soul beneath. It’s an approach that will have you eating out of their hands.