Cyann and Ben
Happy Like An Autumn Tree
Gooom / Locust Music
2004
B-



it’s hard to believe that Cyann and Ben are only two albums deep into their career. As equally as comfortable in refracting the ideas of other bands as it is in cultivating its own aesthetic, Happy Like An Autumn Tree surely reflects a band on the brink of an epochal recording. This, however, isn’t it. The album instead sees the band tentatively stepping further outside of the shadow of the other bands that the group took on so ably on their debut recording. But if the results here are anything to go by, it shouldn’t be long before we have a record worthy of the accolades that most seem to be already happy to laud upon them.

If the first song is anything to believed, Cyann and Ben has been listening to American Analog Set records on repeat since the release of Spring. Luckily (although it’s a strong and driving opener), the group sidesteps the comparison for much of the rest of the album, only returning to the woozy organ-led sound for the majestic finale “Obsessing and Screaming Voice in a Shell”. The group does seem to evoke a variety of other groups throughout, however. “Gone to Waste” seems like a Broadcast outtake, “Tide” is the same sort of Flying Saucer Attack homage of which there were plenty of on Spring and “Summer” is eerily reminiscent of something you might’ve found on Air’s 10,000 Hz Legend. The secret to all of this, of course, is that the above list is a varied and exciting to list to ponder. One can think of far worse touchstones to be making music based from.

That being said, there’s also a good portion of the disc that doesn’t sound like much anything else at all (also a good thing). “Close to Discovery” mixes an aimless piano melody with a thick organ drone and sampled vocals to hit or miss ends, “A Moment Nowhere” is a slight pop confection and the aforementioned “Obsessing…” is a stunning nine-minute closer that while evoking bits of American Analog Set perhaps trumps most, if not all, of their recent work.

It’s also the last song here that leaves questions for the future of the group. Will they continue to revel in their influences, becoming respected but widely ignored rehashes of the same sort of indie miserablism as groups like the Set? Or will they reach out further on future releases to a newer aesthetic that takes them to a place all their own, free of the comparisons that litter this very review? Only time will tell. But I’ll probably be listening.



Reviewed by: Todd Burns
Reviewed on: 2004-07-08
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