The Sydney duo of Tim Jenkins and Tom Crandles, the masterminds behind Au.Ra, have come a long way since their days of playing in the background of widely celebrated Australian indie acts. Tim Jenkins played guitar for the one album wonders, Parades, while Tom Crandles played bass for Ghostwood, and also guitar under his solo moniker Colours. After the demises of these former bands, the string-strumming Jenkins and Crandles began to work on music together.
The music they began to make is centered around a guitar driven shoe-gaze reminiscent of the poppier side of bands like My Bloody Valentine, but generally borrowing the more upbeat rhythms of The Jesus and Mary Chain. This sound is miles away from either of their former collectives’ previous offerings. On Jane’s Lament – Au.Ra’s initial offering into the folds of a genre new to them – they prove themselves to be worthy dueling front men at times, while at other times they seem lost in the haze they have created.
What is clear about Au.Ra is that they are at their best on Jane’s Lament when they stick to the fuzzed-out droning guitars and washed-out vocals. For instance, the airy and aloof opening track “Morning,” which is soaked in lustrous rays of guitars that range from clean strokes to mini-metal solos, while here and there are dropped light dustings of well-placed feedback. This is followed up by the glistening and airy pop-soaked “Sun.” And the following, “Pyramid,” takes a turn by putting the vocals, which had previously only been heard like a voice in fog, out into the foreground.
By this point it is clear that Au.Ra are not breaking any new ground within the genre, but to their credit as newcomers they do the genre more than enough justice. So when Au.Ra decide to veer off their course and attempt to experiment, it makes the bad sound even worse. The fallible and synthetic “You’re on My Mind” and the rather pointless fifty-eight second interlude which follows, “Juki,” are just that; experiments in trying to bridge into an electronic world to which they do not belong. But even when Au.Ra try to return to a more familiar indie pop style, on “Spare the Thought,” they do so half-heartedly.
For a debut from a pair of indie-rockers who have wandered into to new territory, Jane’s Lament shows a lot of promise. However, from a musical standpoint, the synthetic elements they employ at times only serve to show the pair’s novice status when it comes to musical instruments that don’t contain strings.