BLAME THE AMERICAN EMO BANDS, or the palpable fury of those nu-metal teenagers who skulk around with stares that could kill kittens, but indie is getting faster and angrier. Your standard four-piece band is now doing the guitar and drums thing at twice the speed, powered by an urgent rage and yelping like squashed chihuahuas as they go. And now the Automatic have perfected the recipe to take it to the top five.
Like Hard-Fi, their lyrical muse is smalltown life, dead-end jobs and stifled dreams. ‘Raoul’, the first single, was named after the man who worked in the sandwich shop next to their rehearsal room and whose ambition they suspect “got cast aside, thrown away when the batteries died”. ‘You Shout You Shout You Shout’ complains about “so much trash on the radio”, about people doing things “in the routine way”. Their hit single, ‘Monster’, has a refrain of: “What’s that coming over the hill, is it a monster?” As idiotic choruses go, it’s a keeper, and it transpires the monsters are those Cardiff males who get tanked up on a Saturday night and head into town dressed in Ben Sherman shirts and shirtiness.
The Automatic are Welsh lads in their late teens who bonded over a love of Blur, Ash and Radiohead, but were also influenced by the Cardiff screamo scene, which featured noise-core bands such as Jarcrew. Indeed, they sound like local heroes McLusky at some points — there are shades of Alan is a Cowboy Killer on this album. But they sound more pop than that, more American-influenced, and a lot more grating — the rifles’ rapid rattle can get tiring for listeners aged 14 and over.
© Sophie Heawood, The Guardian, 16 June 2006