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The Automatic
Not Accepted Anywhere
Columbia Records
www.theautomatic.co.uk


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," and "Seriously…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.

-Jake McCarthy

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