Autobahn are a group in thrall to the good old days of post-punk, where sternly grooving basslines could drive everything forwards and vocals could echo around as if they were in a dilapidated warehouse. Dissemble, the group’s debut album, carries this vision through with intense focus. On Tough Love.
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Post-punk dramatists Autobahn have everything that makes their genre feel like a pantomime. Their stoical, barbed wire band name is a proper description of the music, which uses goth vocal taunts and industrial beats to trade off the age old oxymoron of this music: is it churned out by machines or made by hyper-sensitive songwriters? Either way, ‘Dissemble’ is as miserable as Joy Division on Interpol on Disappears. It’s bleeding baritone.
Being from Leeds, this gloom crew have a lot of reasons to be trembling in a deep voice, chief among them Phil not being able to buy a flapjack today. But their sound is distinctly throwback, its riffs ’n’ synths coalescing like a second, far more convincing attempt at the revival of the early 2000s. Using way more in the way of noise and discordance, plus the occasional ambient swirl a la the fogged-up title track, their sound achieves more intrigue than the band’s forebears ever did. Compared with the new onslaught of post-punk, Autobahn aren’t trying to sneak pop music into their tunes; rather, their guitar lines are turgid and their vocals slightly off-centre, making for a suffocating record of grooves running into puddles.
It’s a fine record, with some great, unhinged moments (on “Society”, the band sound kinda like the Fall lacking all interest, a band whose love of unkind chords resonates with Autobahn), and though ‘Dissemble’ occasionally homages its influences a little too obsessively, it proves to be more interested in the mucky bits of post-punk than the total hits. And that’s an interesting idea — post-punk is, after all, a little bit ugly.
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