“Calling It” by Automatic is the single of the year.
Yes it is.
It is futile to suggest anything else.
My minds made up by the way I feel.
From the dull ache of the bass line to the John Carpenter synths and the opening line “It’s harder to remember, to hold it all together” which so perfectly encapsulates the modern, post-modern, disconnect and social media malady that affects us all this is…better than anything else you might be thinking of.
Crucially Automatic also understand that style, a look and a clear visual identity are the hallmarks of all of the best groups. Style is better than substance but style with substance is better that than.
The video for “Calling It” highlights, perfectly, that with Automatic we are dealing with something much bigger, much better and much brighter than the tired cliches of cock ‘n’ roll. This is music video elevated to moving image…art and artifice blending to produce something hipper than hip.
Throughout the film there are clear references to Kubrick, Lynch and Cronenberg.
Check out Lola Dompe in her yellow boiler suit in the first image (above) and then look at Shelley Duvall as “Wendy” in “The Shining” (above). Kubrick used yellow throughout “The Shining” to convey a sense of unease…the tone of the video for “Calling It” and, arguably the song itself, is one of unease.
It isn’t the only time that yellow appears in the video…here (below) is Izzy Glaudini driving a forklift which is yellow while wearing yellow ear defenders. Remember the VW Beetle that the Torrance family drive up to the Overlook Hotel…
Then there are the yellow gloves that keep appearing, particularly on Halle Saxn Gaines…
“The Shining” references don’t stop there. Kubrick also used red throughout the film…for very obvious reasons…and it also crops up throughout the video, like in this shot where a ‘plane has both red and yellow livery on the tail.
There is even a nod to the two murdered daughters of Mr Grady…with Gaines and Glaudini dressed, at least in part, in blue just like the girls and with the red Coca-Cola vending machine replacing the blood that pours through the walls of the Overlook Hotel.
The narrative in this opening section is about three workers in an aluminium foundry…they pour molten aluminium into moulds, they move boxes of product, they inspect goods. Blue collar workers in the shadow of an airport, suggesting that the escape they seek is close but not close enough.
At this point the action shifts to a second group of women. We initially find them in a boardroom. They are engaged in a presentation on “Aluminium Alloy Density” so it isn’t a huge leap to believe that they are the directors of the foundry where the previous three characters were working.
They are dressed in power suits, drinking champagne and smoking cigarettes using a ring holder. Their nails are manicured to the point of perfection and, unlike the women in the foundry, their faces are made-up.
Behold the elite!
Everything here is more Lynchian than Kubrickian. This is the world of “Mulholland Drive”, “Inland Empire” and “Blue Velvet”. The influence of “Blue Velvet” can be seen in the closing moments of the video when the boardroom women find a strange box in the middle of the road…much like the moment when Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan) finds a severed ear in a field near his home at the start of the film.
There is no severed ear in this box but, instead, a small metal figure of a man…made from aluminium.
Is he a gift?
Is he a threat?
Like most of the films of David Lynch there is no real answer…the joy lies in the question.
Automatic are asking all sorts of questions, the most important of which is…can you name a better new band?
I know the answer to that.
You can order “Calling It” on 7″ single today from Stones Throw.
The debut album “Signals” will be released on September 27th on Stones Throw.