Autistic Daughters

guitars, vocals:DEAN ROBERTS
doublebass, guitar, electronics:WERNER DAFELDECKER
drums, computer:MARTIN BRANDLMAYR

Unlike rock bands that craft experimental concepts and sounds onto pop structures, the members of Autistic Daughters use their background in avant-garde and minimal music to make songs that are as sophisticated as their previous work, but as emotive as the best pop and rock. The group's debut, Jealousy and Diamond, was a natural extension of Dean Roberts' Be Mine Tonight, and showed just how well Roberts, Werner Dafeldecker and Martin Brandlmayr made the transition from collaborators to band: the trio's minimal roots were present in the album's confidently wide-open spaces, and their seamless interplay made everything fall into place, even if those places were unexpected. Uneasy Flowers' poetic, stream-of-consciousness beauty is even more immediate and ambitious than Roberts, Dafeldecker, and Brandlmayr's previous work together: Their playing sounds more intimate and Roberts' voice and lyrics are more prominent, even though his guitar still often speaks louder than he does. The trio's greater focus helps convey the album's overarching concept: Uneasy Flowers explores the world of its character, Rehana, from numerous perspectives, his fragmentation underscored by Autistic Daughters' particularly impressionistic style of songwriting -- Roberts and company give the listener glimpses of the story, surrounded by fragments of melody that fill in at least some of the blanks. More importantly, the trio does a remarkable job of channeling pure mood. "Rehana's Theme" gives its aching an epic scope with spare yet prominent percussion and piano and meditative electronic drones, while "Gin Over Sour Milk" comes across as brooding, thoughtful, almost torchy, until swaths of distortion cauterize the song. Autistic Daughters take a slightly more dramatic approach here than they did on Jealousy and Diamond, which only underscores the band's skills. Acoustic guitars and vibes emerge from "Uneasy Flower"'s opening glitches, which give the impression that the whole song is shaking with dread. Even if the band's music isn't typically lush, there's an almost luxurious depth to their sound, as on "Hotel Exeter Dining Room," where layers of strings and distortion feel immense and oddly elegant. However, what makes Uneasy Flowers a truly remarkable album is just how polished and effortless Autistic Daughters sound while creating music this complex and conceptual. Their songs leave a lasting impression that only grows with time and repeated listening, and Uneasy Flowers is a subtly dazzling triumph~ Heather Phares