Stones Throw • 2022

Listening to the second album »Excess« by Automatic from Los Angeles, the listener inevitably wonders whether this is simply slick retro-pop or whether there is a subversive topicality slumbering beneath the chrome-plated surface (see album cover). The aesthetics and sound of Izzy Glaudini, Lola Dompé and Halle Saxon clearly point back to the late 70s, when post-punk and no wave finally transitioned from the underground to the mainstream: undercooled vocals, precise machine drums, pulsating basslines and whirring synths bang through the entertaining ten songs. At the same time, ironically distanced themes such as escapism, nihilism, loneliness or the excessiveness of current hyper-capitalism are addressed. But the spark doesn’t really want to fly – the sound is too smooth, the retrofuturistic motifs too familiar. Even though the super-rich are trying to escape to space for real today, this dream and its imponderables were already a topic 50 years ago, and not only for science fiction authors. In »New Beginning«, Automatic merely admit that it is probably not a good idea to simply leave an exhausted, burnt out planet for a supposedly better location somewhere deep in space. The trio counters such false hopes with a diffuse solidarity, so as not to despair completely. All this is cast in rousing pop songs, which, however, leave one somewhat perplexed on the content level.