CD Review: Automatic “Signal”

Los Angeles-based band Automatic came together when they met within the music scene of that city. Izzy Glaudini (synths, vocals), Lola Dompé (drums, vocals) and Halle Saxon (bass, vocals) are the three women who make up the band. It was back in 2017 when Izzy had been invited by Halle to plug her guitar into the bass amp. Since then, however, the band’s makeup changed from guitar-based to keyboard-based music when Izzy Glaudini decided to set the guitar aside and started jamming on the keyboards. With this version of the lineup, the three musicians draw their musical inspiration (as well as the name) from the band called The Go-Gos as well as others. Other influences to Automatic’s music come from the likes of punk bands like Bauhaus and others.

While Automatic draws some inspiration from Punk (due to several factors including the fact that Lola Dompé’s father is none other than Daniel Ash of Bauhaus), the band’s sound is much more closely related to Indie Rock with some New Wave flavor thrown in. You can call the band’s sound “electronic post-punk”. That sound can be found on the band’s debut album entitled Signal.

Signal from Automatic begins with the track “Too Much Money”. It’s the sound of Halle Saxon’s bass that starts the track off, with Izzy Glaudini’s keyboards adding a bit of Industrial Distortion to the background of the track. When Lola Dompé’s drums are added into the mix, the resulting track takes the listener back in time to the early days of New Wave when the bands like Ultravox and Kraftwerk were influencing the direction of Rock and Roll over in England. The unmistakable New Wave feel of the music is joined by lead vocals from drummer Lola Dompé and background vocals from keyboard player Izzy Glaudini that, together, recall bands like Bananarama and/or the aforementioned Go-Gos. While the track has a slightly dark feel, the quick pace of the music adds some lightness into the mix. “Too Much Money” is a fun listen, in a throwback kind of way.

Automatic continues their album with the track “Calling It”. Like with the previous track, the song begins with the pounding bass from Halle Saxon with a light drumbeat from Lola Dompé. The two musicians create a rhythmic pattern that is added to by atmospheric noise from Izzy Glaudini’s keyboards. That rhythmic pattern and atmospheric noise create a track of minimalistic simplicity as the vocals from Izzy Glaudini on the track are delivered in a sing-song, monotone manner. The lyrics about bringing a relationship to a close just adds to the darkness of the track. The song ends up being the type of tracks that would fit in with either New Wave artists and/or Alternative Rock artists.

With the track “Suicide in Texas,” the band creates another song with a rather simplistic feel to the music. Like with the previous track, “Suicide in Texas” contains a light delivery on the drums as well as atmospheric noise in the background. Along with the light percussion, the song features a strong bassline and swirling keyboards that constantly seem to loop upon themselves. This creates a track that has a definite Pop-like pace to the music and a beat that is rather infectious. That being said, however, the song is hardly the type of song that you would find on a Top 40 radio format. As a result, “Suicide in Texas” contains a sound that is both underground and listener-friendly at the same time, creating one of the more interesting songs on the album.

The next track, called “I Love You, Fine,” begins with a heartbeat-like pulse from Halle Saxon’s bass and a keyboard sound that comes with a slightly dark feel to it. The bass/keyboard sound is then joined by sonar-like pulse, which, combined together creates dark, foreboding music. It is with the inclusion of Lola Dompé’s drums that the song actually gains a little lightness to the music. When the band finally picks up the pace on the song, the track takes on a Post-Punk musical approach, making the track feel like it came from the late seventies/early eighties.

As much of the music contained on the Signal release from Automatic contains some influence from New Wave music from the eighties, it should come as no surprise that the band added a slightly robotic feel to their music on the title track of the release. The addition of the sound effects in the music on the song “Signal” also gives the song a mechanical feel to it. With the robotic feel to the drums and bass on the song, as well as the use of sound effect, the track “Signal” feels very much like it was influenced by the band Devo. The band even continues the mechanical feel of the music with the next track of “Humanoid”.

With the bass riff at the beginning of the track “Electrocution,” the band Automatic feels as if they are calling upon the influence of the group A Flock of Seagulls. The quick drumbeat even adds to that reference. But with the light keyboards at the beginning of the song, the track also feels like it was influenced by the likes of The Cure. The Call-and-Return feel of the lead vocals and background vocals in the refrain of the track adds a nice amount of depth to the track. You could imagine this track being played on College Radio back in the late eighties/early nineties.

The Signal album from Automatic comes to a close with the song “Strange Conversation”. The track’s heavy bassline and strong keyboards mix with keyboard player Izzy Glaudini’s vocals to create a track that feels like it would have come from the mid-eighties. In fact, the track would have felt right at home being played alongside either “I Could Be Happy” or “Happy Birthday” from the Scottish New Wave band Altered Images.

Signal from Automatic is a strong album, with the various influences from Alternative Rock and/or New Wave, and from bands like Kraftwerk, A Flock of Seagulls, The Cure among others. But with the music on the release alternating between Post-Punk, Industrial, and New Wave, the album is more suited towards those looking for Indie Rock than those looking for Top 40/Adult Contemporary music. If you’re a fan of slightly darker takes on music, this may well be the album for you.

For a taste of the music from Automatic, check out the music video to the band’s song called “Too Much Money”.

To check out the Signal album from Automatic on spotify, click on the album cover below:

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