Skip Navigation
NPR News
The Autumn Defense's new album, Fifth, comes out Jan. 28. (Courtesy of the artist)

First Listen: The Autumn Defense, 'Fifth'

Jan 19, 2014

Hear this

This text will be replaced
Launch in player

Share this


Explore this

Reported by

Stephen Thompson

Related Topics at NPR.org

Side projects often provide a chance to take wild left turns; to indulge a desire to experiment outside the formulas dictated by a musician's primary creative outlet. For The Autumn Defense — which features bassist John Stirratt and multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone, both of Wilco — it's actually a chance to pursue a narrower focus. Where Wilco sprawls, The Autumn Defense drills down to a sweetly straightforward style of classic pop and rock.

That simplicity doesn't mean the work is tossed off, or that The Autumn Defense isn't a top-of-mind concern for its members. Fifth is, not surprisingly, the band's fifth album in a career dating all the way back to 1999, and its members have found their own voice within the project — one that wouldn't be alien to fans of Wilco's gentler side. Warm and bittersweet, the timeless pop songs on Fifth have an agreeable brightness to them; they can seem unassuming, but they also burrow under the skin over time.

Stirratt and Sansone's contributions to Wilco are a bit of a red herring when assessing The Autumn Defense; if anything, Sansone's work with Josh Rouse actually provides a sturdier reference point. As tempting as it may be to amplify and overindulge in the pursuit of attention, all three musicians understand the value in crafting a low-key charm offensive. Fifth soothes more than it stuns, which isn't so bad for listeners looking to calm their nerves.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Missing some content? Check the source: NPR
Copyright(c) 2014, NPR

Visitor comments

on:

NCPR is supported by:

This is a Visitor-Supported website.