Just in Time for Fall: An Autumn for Crippled Children – The Light of September
An Autumn for Crippled Children have just released The Light of September, a synth-poppy blackgaze album jam-packed with songs for sad bois. The Dutch group’s hallmark is juxtaposing bright and poppy shoegaze with bleak black metal and melancholic themes. This approach creates bittersweet, tender, fragile tracks and I’ve been a fan ever since 2013’s try not to destroy everything you love.
The title track, which opens the record, illustrates this juxtaposition best with bouncy bass and synth lines pitted against low-fi guitar and grating black metal vocals. It’s an approach purists will hate, but the contemplative, nostalgic mood conjured by the music is nice and fresh feeling, even during these times when the kids are all about post black metal and blackgaze.
“Hiding in the Dark” gives a look into the band’s heavier side, with the black metal coming more out into the foreground, though most of the harmonies are still on the tender side rather than crushing and dissonant.
“Fragility,” with the repeated piano line and the slightly unrefined musical phrasing where odd notes are accented pulls you in as it adds more layers. The somewhat unsteady feeling of the phrasing adds to the feeling of fragility, with pleading vocals at the peak of the song mixing in some desperation and hopelessness. Definitely a highlight of the album.
“The Silence Inside” mixes in some of the first deliberate dissonance seen on the record, though it’s nothing too extreme. Like most everything else here, the focus is more on melancholia and bittersweet nostalgia.
By now the record does start to feel a bit one-note. Most Autumn for Crippled Children releases I would recommend splitting into two listening sessions. With the repetitive strumming patterns, garbled vocals, and simple synth lines, after extended time listening to the album it gets harder and harder to tell songs apart. As much as I do enjoy the end product of the group, their composition style seems to limit them when it comes to variety.
After taking a short break, “Still Dreaming” pulls you back in with a poppy hook. The song ends without much to resolve it and dives headlong into the final track, “The Golden Years,” which has the most intense vocals on the album so far. As a final punch of that bittersweet and melancholic feeling it more than does its job, but like most other releases from the band, this one doesn’t really feel like an ending track to me because of the lack of a feeling of finality.
The Light of September is more upbeat feeling in a way than a lot of An Autumn for Crippled Children’s work, seeming to delve more into the nostalgic elements of their music. Unfortunately, also like most of their work, it does start to feel one-note halfway through the record. That’s nothing that can’t be fixed by splitting this into two listening sessions, but I’m still anticipating a record from the group that doesn’t have this issue.
Despite all this I still think The Light of September is perfect for the coming fall days, another record good for anyone in a transitionary period of life, as you reminisce about things you miss, and think about the coming changes.
3.5/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell