ALBUM REVIEW: Automatic – Signal (Stones Throw Records)
Don’t let the name put you off: Automatic are nothing at all to do with the Welsh rock band who had a couple of hits in the mid-noughties with Raoul and the ubiquitous Monster.
This Automatic are a new all-girl band from Los Angeles who play synth-driven indie post-punk with more than a touch of ‘70s minimalist electro outfits Neu! and Suicide about it.
Izzy Glaudini (synths, vocals), Lola Dompé (drums, vocals) and Halle Saxon (bass, vocals) met in LA’s DIY band scene and started jamming together in 2017. And you might have noticed from the line-up’s bios that there’s not a guitar in sight.
They’ve shared a stage with bands like Surfbort, Wand and Flatworms, and this is their debut album.
Lola was born into a punk household (her dad is Kevin Haskins of Bauhaus) and joined her first band when she was just 13. Halle and Izzy met playing in local bands. They’re named after a Go-Go’s song, not the ‘Monster’ rockers.
Their guitarless sound allows them to fuse motorik rhythms and gnarly synths with elements of dub reggae, and opener Too Much Money, about the fakeness of social media profiles, sets the tone for what follows with a mesmerising beat.
The compelling bassline in lead single Calling It evokes comparisons with the Talking Heads’ Psycho Killer, while Electrocution is about a near-death freak accident in Izzy’s apartment.
A slightly unsettling atmosphere runs throughout the album, but that’s a good thing, and my only criticism is most of its 11 tracks are a little one-paced, with the exception of the slightly faster Champagne.
Perhaps the best song is saved to last, as the closing Strangers, the latest single taken from the album, captures the feeling of alienation and isolation which runs through the entire work, perfectly. 7/10.
- Oh, and it’s handy having your dad in Bauhaus. After playing at Desert Daze Festival and heading out on their first headline Europe tour, Automatic will return to the US to open for the goth-rock pioneers at their reunion shows at the Hollywood Palladium in November.