Reviews

Split Continents Make For A Unified Sound: Au.Ra

By:  Leann Bescript

Au.Ra is a psychedelic-pop duo split between Sydney, Australia and London, England. The duo are quickly gaining momentum with their entrancing shoegaze-style melodies. Both Tim Jenkins (of Parades) and Tom Crandles (of Ghostwood) broke away from their previous successful musical endeavors in the Sydney music scene to start up Au.Ra, and are expected to release their first album entitled Jane’s Lament, through California label Felte on March 3.

Jane’s Lament can be described as nothing short of groovy and intoxicating. Written over the course of two years, and sometimes from two separate corners of the world, it is surely a highly anticipated release.

Tom Crandles is currently living in London, where both members lived and worked on the album for the better part of 2013. However, Tim Jenkins has taken it back to his roots in Sydney, and so the band is currently an estimated 16,983 km apart (that’s Australian for ~10,557 miles). Despite the distance, these friends have come together to make an album that I would categorize as steamy-make-out-worthy.

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When I first started listening to Jane’s Lament in the Starbucks at school, I immediately thought to myself: “I don’t care who sees me, I cannot help myself from swaying along to this.” By the time I was ready to give my order, I was in full foot-tapping and timed-finger-pointing mode.

The opening track, “Morning” kicks in with an interesting drum beat and layers of effected guitars that give way to some clear shredding. The lyrics are minimal, gentle and repetitive, but beautiful in that way, with singing reminiscent of Beach House or Ducktails. Funny enough, as I’m listening to Au.Ra I can almost feel the sun warming my face on a hot Australian morning right now.

Sticking with that theme, the next song is appropriately titled “Sun,” and stacks up nicely with a twinkly symphony of electric guitar, and more forefronted lyrics. Although very droney and sweet, it’s hard to feel stressed with this one playing, even when everyone around you is buzzing with anxiety in attempts to grab their caffeinated drinks before their next class.

“Juki,” a short, lyric-less snippet sounding similar to the opening sequence of a Discovery Channel special on space, seems to be the middle-ground of the 9-song album.

The first available single from Jane’s Lament is “Talk Show.” The track definitely holds down the second half of the album and is a good representation of what Au.Ra’s overall sound really is. Both members can be heard singing, mixing together in the whirr of repeating lyrics.

Most of the songs exceed three minutes and wind down slowly, which could be a hurdle for some listeners, but their style attributes itself to an easy-listening vibe that really sucks you in.

One thing I will commend Au.Ra for is their ability to ease you into the endings, whether it is the end of a single track or the end of the album as a whole.

By the time you’ve made it to “Width,” the final track, I found myself surprised to hear more of the jolting, unnatural alien sounds that first came about in “Juki.”

I would say listening to this album is almost like waking up from a smooth plane ride, only to find yourself making a bumpy landing to your destination. You wish you were back on the ride, lost in thought and swaying back and forth without a care, but then, suddenly, someone is screaming “TALL AMERICANO” at you, as you realize that every single person in Starbucks is staring, including the barista who is holding out your drink with an extremely annoyed look on her face.

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