I’ll be honest: I don’t hear a whole lot of post-rock that I don’t enjoy. I don’t know if that’s because the bands-per-suck ratio is infinitely lower than some other genres or because I can tolerate clones of clones of Explosions in the Sky because, well, even a third-rate EITS is better than a lot of the newer bands in the punk, hardcore, and indie scenes.
The fact of the matter is there’s just not a lot of bad, or even marginal bands playing the style. A style that seems so hard to pull of well sees more of a success rate than any other genre, and because of that, more bands than ever are sprouting up and juxtaposing a reserved ambience with thunderous crescendos.
Well, add another to the list. The Autumn Project already meet the genre’s first requisite: extremely long songs. Three of A Burning Light's five tracks clock in at over ten minutes, the shortest of the set just cracking five minutes. But, as we all know, it’s not about duration, but content; any band can write a 15-minute song, but a 15-minute song that never lets the listener lose interest is another matter entirely.
The Autumn Project seem to have somewhat of an identity problem; the first three tracks all come from distinctly different aspects of the genre. “At the Feet of Sleeping Giants” is a very minimal and foreboding soundscape that doesn’t pick up until almost 10 minutes through -- a few minutes of slowly increasing riffs top off until subsiding into the quiet, foreboding soundscape that it came into. Don’t get too used to the style, though, because the next track could have fit in on any of the last three Explosions in the Sky albums -- everything about the song reflects Texas’ finest, from the grandiose rises and falls to the more intricate instrumental subtleties. It’s an undoubtedly impressive, albeit unoriginal track, but it still feels amiss considering the feel of the first song. “Between the Smoke and Mirrors” does nothing to quell the lack of uniformity, because the Pelican-like track simply furthers the divide and perpetuates the inconsistency of the record.
Post-rock albums need continuity above all else. Without words to tell a story, it’s the instruments themselves that do the job, and if every song sounds like a completely different band, there’s no real way to gauge what the band is trying to express through their music. The fact that they can play several styles well is admirable, but the fact that they try in the first place is more detrimental than anything else.
As individual songs, each of the five found on this record succeed. They’ve all got identity and they’ve all got qualities that merit repeated listens. As a whole, the record is more disjointed than anything. The Autumn Project need to pick a niche in their genre in expand on it -- clearly they have the skill in which to do so. It’s 'will they?' or 'won’t they?' that remains to be seen.