Album Review: Autobahn – This Moral Crossing

“That was my downfall, an excess of civic pride” laments Tony Wilson on a BBC documentary about Manchester’s Factory Records, one of the founders and masterminds behind the label. Yet it was also was one of the things that catapulted Factory to legendary status – it’s stubborn, unyielding belief that the grim Northern city had as much to offer as its Southern counterparts.

Through a steady stream of EPs, blistering live shows and 2015’s Dissemble since their formation three years ago, Autobahn have inspired a Wilsonesque pride from Leeds music fiends – in this context, thanks to their deeply hypnotic intelligent blast of white noise laced with a Yorkshire accent and served as motornik-infused two fingers.  Now, the Leeds five-piece are back with sophomore album This Moral Crossing, out tomorrow on Tough Love Records.  If Factory has become shorthand for excellence, the exceptional quality of This Moral Crossing surely means that Autobahn won’t be that far off in the future.

Firmly rooted in the noisy side of post-punk – a genre that sometimes forgoes song quality for experimentation –  Autobahn find a near-perfect balance between the two across the record. ‘Future’ is distinctively Autobahn, its distant vocals cavernous that portraying everything in sight as gloomy and imposingly industrial. But, like refracted light through a prism that euphorically lights up the cave you find yourself in, New Order-esque synths turn the track into an incredible pop song, its shimmering melodies contrasted with a gritty underbelly. Even less melodic tracks, like the excellent ‘Certain’ with its engrossing cry of “I want to be there for you”, feel anthemically huge with their swirling cacophonies of noise.

And so it goes across This Moral Crossing, Autobahn constantly conjuring gargantuan pillars of songs. However, there’s one track that feels like an instant classic in its brilliance – a track that remains true to Autobahn’s vision, but pushes their intentions into exciting new pastures. That track is ‘Torment’.  In the flow of the record, ‘Tormet’s opening strings bring a change of texture to immediately grab your attention; never mind the beautiful French vocals. It’s an ambient, almost tender side to Autobahn that’s often hidden beneath their brutalist exterior. Coupled with the tracks euphoric conclusion, it’s this that rewards ‘Torment’ to be This Moral Crossing’s finest point. It’s the sound of a band pushing itself to its limits – and succeeding in their experimentation.

With so much expectation resting upon it, it would have been very easy for This Moral Crossing to buckle under the pressure. In reality, the exact opposite has taken place, Autobahn have created something beautiful in the forge – a record strewn with passion, intelligence and exceptional moments.

THE MORAL CROSSING IS OUT 03/11/17 VIA TOUGH LOVE RECORDS:

CATCH AUTOBAHN THIS NOVEMBER:

OXFORD O2
5 LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
BRISTOL Louisiana
LONDON The Lexington
10 BRIGHTONThe Joker
11 SOUTHAMPTON Heartbreakers
16 LEICESTER The Cookie
17 SHEFFIELD Record Junkee
18 WREXHAM Undegun
22 GLASGOW Broadcast
23 EDINBURGH Sneaky Pete
24 STOCKTON-ON-TEES Ku Bar
25 MANCHESTER The White Hotel

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