Automatic, Madeline Island, and dance music from...Leeds?
This year, I took on a project reviewing 100 new (to me) records. These are the latest in that series.
Close your eyes and imagine Devo as a dance band or a collaboration between the Go-Gos and wire. Add some of Braniff’s sartorial choices for good measure.
Take either of those and you have Automatic (who took their name from a Go-Gos track). With their latest record, Excess, the LA-trio takes us on a tour of a less than gleaming future.
Lead-off single “New Beginning” rockets us into the ionosphere with a tight beat and strange synth sounds that feel like the robots are already starting to fight for control. Don’t be surprised if they’re rattling around in your head several hours later.
“Skyscraper” feels like Kraftwerk stumbled onto the Soul Train sound stage. It’s an icy tail of a dispiriting rat race. And it’s relatable. When singer Izzy Glaudini laments, Change, if you wanna (If you wanna)/Or stay the same/There’s no difference in the end/Shame, that you gotta (That you gotta)/Play the game/Every dollar gets you off, you feel every syllable.
“Automaton” is a perfect mix of bleeps and bloops layered over a compact beat with waves of synth dusted across the top.
It would’ve been easy for this record to wander off into the weeds—to add layers & layers. Instead economy rules the day here; a relentless drumbeat, Moog synth, and bass that sounds like it came from the same finishing school as Peter Hook are enough.
More than enough actually.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to On Repeat by Kevin Alexander to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.