Au Ras Au Ras’ second album The Great Nothing has an appropriate amount of white space in its songs, giving Tess Brunet (alumnus of Deadboy & the Elephantmen, Generationals and Twin Tigers) ample room to resonate. Brunet’s come-hither croon against her and Johnny Campos’ deafening guitar work is delicate and spellbinding, like a vine curling up a lightning bolt.
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Brunet is a confident ingénue; I find many singers attempting the Dusty in Memphis thing come off too dusty and not enough Memphis or vice versa. There is no affectation here, nor a lack of focused energy. “Talking Head” is no-pulp juicy, squeezed from the heart. The title track comes on like a sunset to say “know that everything is known,” dragging the thought out as long as the encroaching dark.
Most of The Great Nothing travels at a dream pace, even the incendiary sounding “Knife Fight” where she’s “gonna fake some cuts so I can size you up.” The song simmers up to the romantic longing the protagonist seeks without boiling over, and in that hesitancy, in that self-preservation, this album finds its power.
Finale “I’m a Liar,” a naked admission of deceit, is the kind of juggling act of true and false few love songs can execute. It’s like talking about limits in higher math; you never get to zero or infinity, but you can get really, really close, and it’s where the real interesting dynamics take place.