Telephone - Automatic (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Automatic (2007)

Cobra Music

The first time I listened to this album, it wasn't until halfway through that I even realized it was on. It was not until the sixth track, "Mystery Girl," that a hook really caught my ear and made me take notice of the music playing in the background. And from that point on, I seemed to realize that Telephone's Automatic was some decent, chill background music.

What's unfortunate is that it rarely is more than that.

Formed by former Dandy Warhol co-founder Eric Hedford, Telephone play a soothing brand of synth-pop that doesn't really sound like a lot out there, but at the same time doesn't stand out either. Automatic merely exists, neither impressing the listener nor discouraging them. This is rendered even worse by the band's penchant for taking far too much liberty with redundant instrumentation: "More" takes nearly two minutes of repetitive instrumentation until the vocals kick in, "Falling" uses more than three, and such instances are far too frequent. The tracks start to really drag on over the course of the disc's 57 minutes.

Nevertheless, there are moments when the disc picks up, mostly found in the second half. The aforementioned "Mystery Girl" is a catchy pop piece full of "ba-da-ba-ba"s and "do-doo-doo"s to give it a rich, layered sound (only to stumble into the next track, "The Visitor Pt. 1 & 2," which fails in its cock rock verses). "Fascination" has a great `70s rock feel, and "Goodbye" would be a great closer to the album -- if it wasn't followed by the boring "Falling."

Automatic is hardly a bad disc, but it is certainly one that is too ambitious for its own good. While the good moments shine, overall they aren't enough to stop this album from dragging on. A bit of trimming and a better start out of the gate could work wonders for Telephone's future releases.