Does the world need another album from The Automatic? The band that make all their music statements IN UPPER CASE have survived largely due to a knack for a catchy tune, as well as a shot of adrenaline. So how are they going to develop? How will they prove they’re more than a one-track Monster?
The answer appears not to be here, though one positive development can be noted – the shouty accompaniments that characterised all their songs have been temporarily retired. The downside of this is that the melodies have also been put on the back burner.
So while there is plenty testosterone on show, the substance doesn’t amount to a great deal. The clattering drums of opener Insides can’t quite mask its lack of a tune, while List is actually rather listless in its loose funk and carefully weighted chorus.
And therein lies the problem. The Automatic’s appeal with Monster, Steve McQueen and Raoul was in a certain roughness that said they didn’t care that much, happy to hurl down some memorable choruses while jumping in the crowd. Now, the sound might be as big but the arrangements are more careful, the feeling of treading water inescapable – and only late on in the album do The Automatic approach the ballsiness of their first record.
Sweat Heat Noise, had it been recorded at the time of the first album, would have carried all before it. Now it’s “give me sweat, heat and noise and I’ll give you the best of me”, delivered in surprisingly measured tones. High Time is perhaps the most surprising track on the album, dimming to a hush in the middle for some soporific falsetto vocals. It’s an effective technique to start with, but again lacks substance – and ends suddenly, quashing any hopes of an anthemic build up.
Stadium indie was never the most appealing of genres, its fatal error often made in a mass of noise at the expense of a decent song. Here The Automatic have launched a bold bid to make it their own, but fall into the trap.