Automatic Brings Back The 70s And 80s In Their Newest Album Excess

Photo Credit: Dana Trippe

Anyone that wants an album full of songs with a retro style that sounds like it’s right out of the 70s with a modern edge will appreciate Automatic’s latest album, Excess. The retro futurist-motorik pop style of Excess emphasizes the overall theme of fighting against the extravagance and consumerist culture present in today’s world through the scope of the corporate, consumerist culture of the 70s and 80s. The band describes the album as, 

“That fleeting moment when what was once cool quickly turned and became mainstream, all for the sake of consumerism.” 

The album also covers many of the social issues of today such as climate change, and how Gen Z inherited these issues from past generations. Izzy (synth and lead vocalist) elaborates, stating, “The record is about what happens to our psyches when we’re conditioned to certain values, the consequences of those values, and a desire to resist them.” Halle (bass and vocals) adds, “We want people to feel empowered to do what they can to save the world, to reject any complacency of watching the world burn.”

The opening track, “New Beginning,” has a more 60s aesthetic sound reminiscent of Jefferson Airplane and the Mamas and the Papas, combined with an 80s style due to the synth. The song’s music video is inspired by the Swedish sci-fi film Aniara and depicts what seems like a fun trip to space that takes a turn for the worse. 

Watch the music video for “New Beginning” below:

“On The Edge” is the second song on Excess, and fits into the theme of Gen Z having to solve the issues passed down from previous generations. The song starts, “Maybe you’ve seen me in the evening/ Wearing a different face each night/ Somehow my history kept repeating/ I watch the same disaster strike,” setting up how the youngest generation feels about seeing the same mistakes made over and over again. “On The Edge” also touches upon the idea of how elders don’t always see eye to eye with the younger generation, as Izzy sings about, “How could you understand our feelings?/ You’re never brave enough to try.”

The next song on Excess, Skyscraper,” is about the meaningless and dull reality of “climbing the ladder” in the corporate world. The drudgery of this life is spelled out in the chorus through the lyrics, “Change, if you wanna (If you wanna)/ Or stay the same/ There’s no difference in the end/ Shame, that you gotta (That you gotta)/ Play the game/ Every dollar gets you off.” The music video features the band dressed up in oversized pantsuits, and sporting the same black wig with bangs, working in a corporate office. 

Watch the music video for “Skyscraper” below:

“Realms” brings the album down with its slower tempo, punctuated by the slow drum beat and simple bass line. The synth takes center stage in this track, punctuating the chorus, and even having a mini solo in the middle of the song. “Realms” plays with the idea of escapism from the reality of the modern world, especially in the lyrics, “You know it’s something special/ There’s nothing left to fear/ Like falling underwater/ This world is so unreal.”

“Venus Hour” refers to Venus, the goddess of love and beauty in Roman mythology. The lyrics paint a picture of someone obsessed with staying young and beautiful, no matter what it takes, and how shallow it may seem. The music video for “Venus Hour” depicts someone trying to live up to this ideal, as it shows the band members glammed up looking at themselves in mirrors and modeling as though they are shooting commercials or posing for ad photos.  

Watch the music video for “Venus Hour” below:

“Automaton” refers to the machine which is created in imitation of a human, but is programmed to perform a specific set of tasks. The song tells the story of the protagonist breaking away from their programming and celebrating their freedom. The song also breaks from Automatic’s traditional sound by placing the synth at the forefront of the track, instead of the usual percussion and bass combo.  

“Teen Beat” is an infectious track, punctuated with an almost robotic-sounding teenage girl giggle. Halle discusses the song’s name and meaning, stating that,

“To us, the name came to be about Gen Z inheriting the world at the eleventh hour before they’re even old enough to drink. Before we landed on ‘Teen Beat,’ we affectionately called it ‘Madness’ — the madness you feel with the state of polarization today.”

The following track, “NRG,” is named after disco pioneer, Patrick Cowley. The song deals with what Lola (drums and vocals) describes as, “the unknowingness that comes with testing boundaries and exploring one’s own values while finding your place in the world as an individual.” The track is full of the band’s signature heavy percussion and bass line, but Izzy’s shouty vocals add a twist to her typical sound. 

After “NRG” is “Lucy” which tells the story of someone who is lost and trying to make sense of the world, and perfectly transitions, both thematically and musically, right into the final track, “Turn Away.”  “Turn Away” brings the album full circle as it refers back to the failed space excursions from “New Beginning.” This final track is meant to keep hope alive, even amongst the failure and negativity of life, which is prevalent in the lyrics, “I can’t stand to hear you talk this way/ Like every new beginning ends the same/ There’s a light in the dark/ Feel the world open up.”

Although Excess discusses the negative aspects of consumerism and corporate culture, the album ends on a hopeful note, as Automatic wants people to be aware of the issues, but still have the grit to persevere through. In other exciting news, Automatic will have a special Excess release show at The Regent in LA on Saturday, August 6. The event is supported by the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN) and will be opened by the Freedom Singers, a collective of musicians from the Skid Row community. A portion of profits from the show will go directly to LACAN. To learn more about the show and to get tickets, visit Ticketmaster.

Automatic will also tour this fall with Osees and recently announced their performances at Pickathon and Desert Daze. Visit Automatic’s official website for more information on tour dates.  

In the meantime, stay up to date on Automatic and their music by following them on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Also, be sure to listen to Excess below!

enordhof Author
Hello! I love writing about a variety of topics, such as books and music, and have my own blog, https://readingandwritingthroughlife.com/. I also do freelance work, which you can see more of on my portfolio website, https://erinfreelancewriting.com/.
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enordhof Author
Hello! I love writing about a variety of topics, such as books and music, and have my own blog, https://readingandwritingthroughlife.com/. I also do freelance work, which you can see more of on my portfolio website, https://erinfreelancewriting.com/.

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