Review Summary: It's ok... but these guys and gals have simply done better in the past.1 of 1 thought this review was well written
Mostly Autumn are a pretty self-sufficient band. Virtually unrecognised by any sort of actually big magazine, not even in the prog arena, they pretty much fly under every radar and rely on word-of-mouth, the internet, and their dedicated core audience to justify their existence as a full-fledged band. Despite that, they've been around for ages and ages, and this is actually their seventh album; Josh and Findlay have been making music for a while now, and they show no signs of slowing down.
But as anyone will tell you, with so many albums down, somewhere you'll hit a slump. Mostly Autumn's very early records were relatively folk-influenced; think what you would get if Pink Floyd did some crossbreeding with Jethro Tull and Genesis. There is some classic rock in there as well, and especially on the newer albums, there was less folk and more rock: as of Heart Full of Sky, the band pretty much sounded like Pink Floyd vs Deep Purple with some Genesis still in there. However, that album brought back some more of the folk tunes, while still remaining genuinely rocky; the album was a bit more dedicated to the power chords.
However on this record, that is not the case, and this is possibly the most subdued MA album to date. Everything here seems to float on an atmosphere, with subtle keys underscoring every song, and a liberal use of acoustic guitars and Heather/Bryan's vocals being slow and melodic. However, the album remains way too dreamy for its runtime, and thanks to this the album seems to not really travel through many different moods like some of its predecessors did. It's, for lack of a better description, quite boring, and it's simply not got the catchy/awesome parts of earlier songs. There is no "Evergeen" on this, nor is there anything like a "Never the Rainbow"; there is some good material, but I've just heard the band do better.
That said, on some tracks, MA still gets it right. "Tearing at the Faerytale" is the band's ode to backing vocalist Olivia Sparnenn's recently deceased father, and it's one of the more emotional tracks by the band to surface in a while. "Above the Blue" is one of those typical soft ballady songs that features Heather Findlay on solo lead vocals showing off her magnificent voice. "Fireside" is one of the few actually rocking tracks, with some wonderful Zeppelinesque guitars. And the chorus of second song "The Second Hand" is pretty much gold.
Technically the band really can't be faulted. The lyrics seem to be pretty irrelevant to the general picture (the band touch on emotional subjects, but seem to be less able to express it without going into cliches, meaning that most of the time they can be safely ignored), and the individual performances are pretty excellent; Josh's melodic, Gilmouresque style is still in place. The album is also pretty well-produced, allowing every instrumentalist (also the new ones, such as the drummer) to get their time in the spotlight. It's all proficient enough for prog lovers, it's just that what they are playing here isn't that interesting; it's not even overly self-indulgent, it just has a habit of not sticking.
Mostly Autumn probably will keep flying under the radar with records like this; it's just hard for them to release another "The Last Bright Light" again, and I don't think they ever will. But they will continue to tour and they are an amazing live act (and many songs that seem boring on record are better live). But maybe that's just necessary; to have a band that's so unknown you can almost claim it's yours, and it's quite simply a status quo. As it is, I think the band is satisfied with that; and as they are pretty much sufficient as it is, there is no reason for that to change. Bring on the next tour.