Friday 19 January 2024

Autumn's Child - Tellus Timeline (2024)

Country: Sweden
Style: Melodic/Hard Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 19 Jan 2024
Sites: Instagram | YouTube

I liked Autumn's Child's 2022 album, Starflower, finding it a little heavier than Mikael Erlandsson's previous band, Last Autumn's Dream, so melodic rock that wants to grow up to be hard rock. I was eager to listen to their next album to see how much into the latter they would move, but, in quite the ironic twist, given that I pointed out in that review that they were likely to be rather prolific, I completely missed the fact that they'd knocked out three before it. This is the next in line, a mere three months later, so it's their fifth in five years, an even greater accomplishment because that period of time spans both sides of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It's sometimes a little heavier than Last Autumn's Dream, but it's not venturing any further into that direction than Starflower, and it just as often veers into pop music. Like that album, though, it's rather varied in which influences the band are happy to display. A Strike of Lightning is a hard rock song rooted in melodic rock, with excellent guitarwork to open it up. Gates of Paradise opens with choral flourishes and ends in even more of a symphonic rock crescendo. And Here Comes the Night is almost pure AOR with a Graham Bonnet era Rainbow riff to kick things off.

These are all good songs. The catch is that they're increasingly familiar, Here Comes the Night so familiar that I can't not have heard this before even though it appears to be completely original. In fact, it's so quintessential that, in that parallel universe where I have indeed heard this before, it was probably called something generic like, say, Here Comes the Night. It's Cheap Trick over all else, but there's Rainbow there too and some seventies glam rock and even hints of Meat Loaf in the phrasing. It's infuriatingly catchy and it's an early highlight, even if it's devoid of originality in every way.

What I like about this album is that, while it's rarely particularly original, it doesn't remotely stay in one place. Those first three tracks are different and most of the rest follow suit, enough so that Autumn's Child keep us guessing at how varied they're going to get here. The influences I cited in the last paragraph mean that the Journey touches on We are Young shouldn't surprise at all and neither should the guitar solo, but the acoustic Latin-inspired guitarwork that's right before it in the midsection might.

The real surprises arrive with Around the World in a Day, because it's Journey via the Beatles, an interesting touch that would be a worthy Eurovision entry, now that they've adopted rock music, if only it wasn't six minutes long. That Beatles touch doubles on Come and Get It! late in the album. This is the Beatles playing a seventies glam rock song with harmonies by the Beach Boys. Closer I Belong to You is everything seventies all wrapped up into one: pop, disco, rock, funk, sappy ballad, all of it put together. None of these are quite as catchy as Here Comes the Night, but some of the better ones come close.

It's odd to listen to something so varied that's somehow always familiar, but maybe that's just an indicator of how many earworms there are here, regardless of how far into pop or rock this gets. There are points where Erlandsson and lead guitarist Pontus Åkesson seem to be rocking out like their lives depend on it, but others where they veer so deeply into pop music that we wonder how we didn't notice them moving out of rock entirely, occasionally into something truly wild like the unaccompanied harmonising section in Come and Get It! that I kept thinking might dip into barbershop quartet territory. I guess we're too busy singing along with these choruses, even on a first time through.

And that's where this ends up. At this point, I'm not sure what Autumn's Child are actually trying to do. They come from melodic rock roots, but sometimes they want to heavy up and go hard rock and other times they want to ditch rock music altogether and play perky pop music. What's telling is that they're consistently good whichever way they go, meaning that this is a very strong bevy of hook-laden songs. I'm just not sure who to recommend it to most. Cheap Trick fans, perhaps?

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