Pop in this record and it can be easy to be cynical. Halfway
through the first track, though, it becomes tough not be in love
with the excessive exuberance The Automatic is capable
of cramming into a song. Hailing from the United Kingdom, The
Automatic are riding the crest of a brit-pop invasion wave that
swelled up under The Kaiser Chiefs and Arctic Monkeys.
They'll be in North America for the Warped Tour this summer, and
while they'll likely share fans with the pop-punk likes of Fall
out Boy, The Automatic's will be better deserved.
Taking a note from Martin Amis, who once wrote that the
key to fist-fighting is to introduce maximum violence immediately,
The Automatic blast in "That's What She Said" with bratty
background vocals and attention-demanding synth and then never
let up. When Rob Hawkins sings, "so punk is dead,
and this is so new/the revolution cooked up in a board room/like
the message on your tee shirt/I don't know what it means but the
colors really work," there's a chance the whole thing might
be an issues record, but lyrical sentiment is never so encumbered
by earnestness that it overshadows the absolute party into which
The Automatic are turning music.
The single is "Monster," in which a delay-laden minor-key
verse morphs into a shout along chorus. That's when The Automatic
goes all out though; in the next 90 seconds the band assaults
the listener with a guitar solo, keyboard break, Billy Idol-worthy
yawp, intensity-addled bridge, key change, a ccapela chorus, and
final verse. It's amazing that they are able to do all that without
coming off as grasping, but it makes more sense when songs like
"Keep Your Eyes Peeled" fail to excel at even the one
thing they attempt. On the other hand, maybe The Automatic figure
audience appreciation is just a fringe-benefit of rocking out?
Hawkins does, after all, at one point chant, "considering
we don't play requests it's nice to see you taking some interest".
One thing The Automatic need is someone to re-title all their
songs. It's tough to look at a playlist with "That's What
She Said," "You Shout You Shout You Shout You Shout,"
I Hate You Guys," and not draw the
conclusion that the album will be crap. In the case of The Automatic,
that conclusion would be wrong, but it does suggest that the band
might be dangerously close to the suburban punk wasteland in which
sincerity is a value-added commodity that trades at par with kitsch.
Listening to the great songs on Not Accepted Anywhere though,
even the most jaded cynic would have trouble twisting the power
and energy of The Automatic into something foul.
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