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Head Automatica formed during 2004, the brainchild of Glassjaw frontman and prolific performer Daryl Palumbo. With Head Automatica, Palumbo breaks away from the hardcore of Glassjaw and lets loose with an upbeat attack of powerpop. It was certainly something new for Palumbo and did in fact come as quite a surprise to me when I heard just how different a band Head Automatica truly are.
The album boots off with 'At The Speed Of A Yellow Bullet', an energetic little number that really sets up the mood for this release. Head Automatica truly do blast through this track at the speed of a bullet, their energy is frantic and the zest for life is large. A true dance floor anthem, this is an excellent starting point for the album and is one from which they progress with intense power and precision. Rarely do the band seem to put a foot wrong as they fly through this album, each track is energetic and upbeat and the band really seem to inject a lot of life into the sound that they are producing.
Palumbo has a great interest in Britpop and hip hop, music he did not feel he could integrate into the sound of Glassjaw and hence the reason why Head Automatica was formed. These genres can be heard at various points throughout the albums progression, their influence is highly apparent and if you listen carefully then this is definitely something that comes through. Such tremendous life is exhibited on this release and none more so than in 'Beating Heart Baby'. The number of times I have listened to this track is truly quite phenomenal, it is by far my favourite of all tracks that the band have ever produced. Everything about the track I feel is perfect, all components of the music come together beautifully and make for an extremely well rounded and finely executed piece of music. The track begs to be heard by all and I genuinely believe that this may well be the closest to perfection that music has ever managed.
'King Caesar' is the track on this album in which I feel the band show the largest signs of a strong hip hop influence. It is by no means an out and out hip hop number, but the opening definitely sounds greatly authentic as a hip hop heavyweight, and although the track in itself is quite repetitive and at times irritating, there are moments of great promise shown here. Oddly enough, I am a huge fan of the vocals of Daryl Palumbo and it is his vocals that grate on me in this track as they just sound a little strained, the musical accompaniment is there to save the day though and always sounds brilliant in the background.
Highlights on this album are in an abundance, tracks such as 'Brooklyn Is Burning' and 'The Razor' are greatly impressive and it is rare that the band do not impress here. With 'Head Automatica Soundsystem' however the band disappoint greatly. They seem to be trying to go for a funky sort of hip hop sound here, but it just doesn't quite work out. The track sounds messy and Head Automatica sound greatly uncomfortable here, inexperienced even. Glassjaw have been going since 1993, Daryl Palumbo is clearly not inexperienced as a musician, and yet on the evidence of the performance here you would never know it. When I listen to the 'Decadence' album I can't help but skip past this one, it just doesn't do anything for me and all the band manage to achieve here is a messy mash up of hideous noises.
All's well that ends well, and the 'Decadence' album does indeed finish with a definite moment of glory. 'I Shot William H. Macy' is a fantastic track to end the album with and sets things back on track one final time for a cool, calm and collected closer. Closing tracks are all important for me and Head Automatica certainly don't disappoint in that department here. Ending in much the same way that they began the album, it provides perfect closure and leaves you wanting for more. The band can hold their heads high for producing this one, the track is greatly bouncy and gigantically catchy. There is good reason why I love Head Automatica and 'William H. Macy' is just one track of many that goes some way to explaining why.
Since 'Decadence', a second album has now been released and Head Automatica still seem to be very much a band brimming with ideas. Their enthusiasm is mammoth and the music itself epitomises catchiness, it's 100% powerpop perfection complete with a good spattering of electronica also. I have very few bad things to say about Head Automatica and believe that their début album is one that all should take the time to listen to. There are a number of fantastic tracks present on this album and 'Beating Heart Baby' I feel is without doubt the pick of the pack. I'd just like to further emphasise my love for this album and proclaim that 'Decadence' is an album that you should definitely own. If you've never before given this album a listen then get out there and do so, you're sure to find it greatly enjoyable I feel.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 At The Speed Of A Yellow Bullet
2 Brooklyn Is Burning
3 Beating Heart Baby
4 Please Please Please (Young Hollywood)
5 King Caesar
7 Dance Party Plus
8 Disco Hades II
9 Solid Gold Telephone
10 Head Automatica Soundsystem
11 I Shot William H Macy