Auburn Lull: Begin Civil Twilight
Darla Records

Darla seems to have become dream-pop central in recent days and that's no bad thing when the release in question is Auburn Lull's Begin Civil Twilight. The Lansing, Michigan-based quartet—guitarists Sean Heenan, Jason Kolb, Eli Wekenman, and drummer Jason Wiesinger—convened in 1995 out of a shared love for bands such as Seefeel and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, and now presents an hour-long collection of ethereal atmosphere on its first full-length since 2004's Cast From The Platform.

Massive sheets of slow-motion shoegaze guitars blind the awestruck listener in “Dub 1” as do the grandiose guitar waves when they rise—abetted by the modern-day Sonny-and-Cher vocalizing of Sean and Elsa Heenan—in “Broken Heroes.” On the lilting “November's Long Shadows,” Sean's vocals exude a gossamer softness reminiscent of David Gilmour's vocal style, while singer Lorraine Lelis becomes his siren during the heavenly to-and-fro of “Axis Nears.” The group's sound is not just lush but epic: soft vocals are almost buried under the humongous shoegaze cloud that rolls through “Grange Arcade.” Instrumentals are interspersed too, some that are grandiose (“Civil Twilight”) and others tranquil (“Stanfield Echo”), and, bolstered by Jason Sheffer's cello playing, an unlisted piece closes the album with ten wistful minutes of meditative splendor. Tailor-made for fans of Manual, Mahogany, Cocteau Twins, and Ulrich Schnauss (who guests on “Coasts”), Begin Civil Twilight is one of the most beautiful examples of celestial dream-pop one could hope to find.

April 2008