While Cardiff has never really been a true hotbed of musical talent, like London or NYC, there are four sprightly young men from the Welsh capital going by the name of The Automatic threatening to suggest otherwise. Over the last six months or so, their three-minute long, hook laden barrages of electro based pop-rock have been utterly inescapable.
And this would be quite irrelevant if they weren’t any good, but with this debut long player Not Accepted Anywhere, they’ve proven that they are just that – good – with 12 massively entertaining, fast paced, energy filled numbers that are set to become ubiquitous over the course of time. You see, the singles – Recover, Raoul and Monster – are just the start of it. Without exaggerating, it’s fair to say that each song on here is sufficiently equipped with a chorus and a youthful exuberance and flair to take on the charts and succeed.
Particularly original it isn’t, but if you’re a fan of music that’s carefree, not afraid of appealing to the masses and a damn good time to boot, this will definitely be up there with the most exciting things to come out this year.
So what of the songs themselves? Expect electronic bleeps, crashing guitar riffs, lead singer Rob Hawkins’ raspy, pencil scrawl of a delivery as well as some screechy, shouty backing vocals courtesy of synth player Alex Pennie. They’ve clearly been inspired by the likes of The Cooper Temple Clause, Nirvana and At The Drive In, amongst others, and when they apply this to their distinctly pop based template, it’s nigh on irresistible.
The singles display their strengths perfectly – aggressive, intent filled, kicks up the backside, with a choruses anyone – from the indie crowd to the folk who buy three albums a year – should be able to sing along to. Monster is a prime exponent of this – starting all quiet and bleakly atmospheric, the chorus is suddenly unleashed upon us helpless listeners with an enthusiasm that is something to behold. It doesn’t let up, either – the refrain of “What’s that coming over the hill / Is it a monster? / Is it a monsteerrr?” buries itself into your head and is sure to become one of the most memorable lines of the year.
Elsewhere, as mentioned previously, the record is one of universal quality – That’s What She Said rallies against youthful apathy – “I know I had something to say / It lost the meaning, and it faded away”, replete with bruising guitars and a chorus so aggressive and insistent you might expect to hear it on a Foo Fighters album. You Shout You Shout You Shout vents anger against the manufactured, Pop Idol generation – “So much trash on the radio” goes this particular sing-along line.
There isn’t a ballad in sight, and the pace just refuses to let up for the platonic 40-minute running time. Lost At Home slows things down slightly, but the second half of the album races furiously towards the finish line, with the euphoric stadium rock of By My Side and closer Rats, which engulfs the listener in its electronic feedback, standing out.
Of course variation is something they’ll have to address of album number two, but for now this is a quite fantastic debut record that a) lives up to the considerable hype, and b) suggests that The Automatic are nothing less than one of Britain’s most exciting new bands.