My wife seems to be obsessed with seasons, linking particular three month periods with albums appropriate for that time. For instance, Sigur Rós is definitely for winter, etc. So, it seems, are Cyann & Ben. The French duo’s first album was called Spring, their second, Happy Like an Autumn Tree which contains a song called “Summer.” And the fashion seems to follow the form. Spring is definitely best played during that particular season, as now the latest is best played in the fall.
The songs within contain a starkness and brisk chill that one feels in the air come October. Having grown up in Southern California, I didn’t realize the distinct differences between the seasons until I moved first to Delaware, then to Washington state. The leaves start to turn, the breezes kick up under overcast skies, and there is a crispness and scent to the air that lingers. There is almost a `cinnamon’ aspect to the entire scene, both in color and in scent.
Happy Like an Autumn Tree is indeed starker than Spring. For those who prefer their French Electronica upbeat and hopeful, the latter is probably more your cup of tea. But those who prefer it moody and morose like Radiohead if Tony Blair is reelected, or Sigur Rós after a bout with depressants, then the former is the album for you.
Whereas Spring, the duo’s debut, was mired in an ethereal vein, Happy Like an Autumn Tree takes its cues from some of the best mood modern mood music out there. At times sounding like My Bloody Valentine (“A Moment Nowhere”), and at others like Pink Floyd (“Circle”), Cyann and Ben create slowly building masterpieces of emotional landscape. The shared duties of lead vocals are more polished this time around and the music more accomplished.
Cyann and Ben, like many other bands, will have fans that love the first album for particular reasons, and fans that prefer the newer release. Every reason is personal and purely opinion and I’ll give you mine. Just like I prefer ( ) over Ágætis Byrjun, I prefer Happy Like an Autumn Tree over Spring. While my love for the former respective albums is great, there is something about the emotive long and drawn out build-up of a song, layering instrument after instrument, and then dying a slow death at its peak (“Obsessing and Screaming Voice in a Shell”) that gets me. Shoegazers rejoice, we have found something new.
Worm is Green- Automagic
Sigur Rós- ( )
Lost in Translation soundtrack