A textured trip taken from yourself to yourself
Six years is a long time in the internet age, and returning to an ever-evolving musical landscape after such a considerable pause is a tricky, unpredictable endeavor – unless you’re Autolux, apparently. While six years have spanned between 2010’s Transit Transit and the much lauded, never forgotten and always compared Future Perfect, Autolux (Eugene Goreshter, Greg Edwards and Carla Azar), seems to have the science of the cycle down with the release of Pussy’s Dead. Produced by music dynamo BOOTS (Beyonce, FKA Twigs, Run the Jewels) under Danger Mouse’s Columbia Records imprint 30th Century Records, Pussy’s Dead is a textured ten track turnover akin to the sinister yet eerily invigorating dream that displaces you completely after a run-of-the-mill day. Cut clean and embracing a sweep of genres that skew from electronica to jazz to lo-fi alt-rock, Pussy’s Dead is a solid return for an accomplished group who wield sound like a sword.
Lyrically, Pussy’s Dead follows a trajectory of confronting the washed out, unfulfilled complacency of the everyday in favor of the self-sustaining (and invariably creepy) real you, shedding the smiling husk in the quest for something deeper. This is apparent almost immediately from first track “Selectallcopy,” a churner with a beat that won’t quit, stuffed with breathy delivery and gasps that sound like they’ve been pulled straight from the throat and thrown out into the ether. Repeating the hook “It’s so, so sad to be happy all the time” with a simple three-tone keying behind it, Autolux displays their knack for elevating something to a simplistic yet beautiful poignancy. “Soft Scene” is the immediate follow-up, maintaining hammering percussion and delving into a heady five minutes of inebriation. “Soft Scene” is metallic, spooky and sexy, throwing dissonant jewel tones into distortion and then modulating it until things get so disorienting that the last minute is a seamless release. “Hamster Suite” slows things down but is by no means a pace-breaker, with trashcan slam drumming, well placed ‘whoo’s’ and the devastating line “The Sun is a wheel, the day is a cage.”
“Junk For Code” is like the sinister side of a Chemical Brothers track, with a Civil War drumline and prompt wah-wah delivery, while “Anonymous” hammers things home with the simplest of tinkling keys throughout, taking the vocals up an octave or two and stretching them out to establish a deliciously eerie introspective expression. In under three minutes Autolux instills a cold and cobbled moment of ‘What am I doing’ in the listener before dousing you in the jazzy, danced out tune “Brainwasher,” chanting “I see right through you” five times before letting you limp away, just a little beaten.
“Listen To The Order” is a commanding podium track, wielding harmonics before sliding into a shattering solo that would put Tame Impala to shame, spiraling into crashing drums before quickly cutting off. “Reappearing” dials things back to ominous, building atmosphere that tapers off into a floaty whirlpool reminiscent of Massive Attack while Azar’s expert wreck and roll drumming is humbly nuanced into the background, like watching someone do an insane acrobatic stunt behind a couple eating brunch in the park.
“Change My Head” is easily a standout, beefing up the 2001 Demonstration track “Future Perfect” by elevating the best elements of the song while maintaining the heart crushing aspects. “Change My Head” is truly gorgeous, with Elliott Smith strains in everything from the slow keys to the vocal delivery to the lyrics. To take a fifteen year-old track and perfect it without completely overdoing things is remarkable and very indicative of Autolux’s cyclical freshness and ability to nod to their beginnings without sentiment.
Pussy’s Dead ends formidably with “Becker,” a closer with clean, clear guitar that melts from cadence to cadence effortlessly, dabbing sounds over, onto and under each other like layering oil paint, ending with the potentially self-referential line “It’s always gonna blow your mind.” At least enough to stay patient for another six years.