Bend the knee.
Bow your head.
The best album of 2019 has arrived.
After the thrills, spills and dizzy delights of “Calling It”, “Too Much Money” and”Mind Your Own Business” earlier this year the Holy Trinity of electro-pop/art who are, collectively, Automatic now present their debut long player and, to be blunt with you, it is a record that none of us deserve.
We are, very definitely, not worthy.
Here in Blighty a few months ago there was nearly a civil war when one former member of Britpop royalty Oasis released a record that had a faint whiff of disco about it and that, gasp, didn’t sound like the music that person had been making for twenty-five years. If you were one of the people who thought that “Black Star Dancing” from Noel Gallagher was a bit much and who now believes “Why Me Why Not?” from his younger brother to be the album of the decade then, with kindness, I think you should probably go and read something else…I’m not even sure you should consider pressing play on “Signal”; it may break you.
There are no guitars on “Signal”.
Rumours abound that all three members of Automatic may suffer from anaphylaxis should anyone even introduce the word into a conversation within eight feet of them…their eyes would bulge, their necks would distend and their throats would narrow.
That may not be true.
It should be.
This is not music that has been informed, influenced or imagined by the presence of The Beatles or The Rolling Drones.
This is as it should be.
This is the sound of a rock ‘n’ roll free from the trappings, baggage and weight of rock ‘n’ roll.
This is the sound of retrospection and introspection while never being retro or intro.
“Signal” is the soundtrack to the best film you have never seen.
“Signal” is the soundtrack to the best version of your life.
It is cooler, hipper, smarter, sharper and more vital than your best day.
In short this is too good for you.
A certain type of music fan isn’t going to like this one little bit.
It’s not for you.
Dance music for awkward dancers.
Punk without the ridiculousness of punk.
Electro-pop with better haircuts.
As you listen to this record you cannot help but feel like it is refining you…providing a means by which you can shake off some, or all, of the worst aspects of your musical self; ridding you of the machismo and liberating you from the narrow restraints of “rock”.
There are, clearly, nods to the old order, particularly the likes of Joy Division, Neu! and Suicide but there are other, less obvious influences at play including dub and cinematic scores. There is something of the icy isolation of Ian Curtis in the vocals of all three members, the delicate and precise drumming (Lola Dompe) has echoes of Stephen Morris, the synth (Izzy Glaudini) is eerily reminiscent of more than one of the very best eighties synthpop acts and the presence of the bass (Halle Saxon) front and centre cements that post-punk, new wave feel.
Isolation, detachment and anxiety are the dominant emotions and themes throughout which makes perfect sense in 2019 because, as the band put it; “The world is so fucked
up, I don’t know how any musician could say, ‘This is all peachy.’”
Things are pretty far from peachy and that is why “Signal” is the album of the year…that and the fact that it is hipper than hip, cooler than cool and dance, dance, dances to the beat of a different drum. At times like this art (and make no mistake kids, this is art) has a responsibility to reflect, react and reach. With their commitment to ensuring that every aspect of what they deliver is never anything less than immaculate, Automatic are making a strong case for being the band we need and not just a band we want.
“Signal” is out now on Stones Throw Records.
Automatic are playing two dates in the UK in October;
22 October – London, UK @ Shacklewell Arms
23 October – Bristol, UK @ The Lanes