Coup De Grace, 2004
They claim they’re not a “Rock-Rap band” but admit to being “middle class white kids.” On their first album, Automato create hip-hop from a wide range of influences, from funk and synthpop to indie rock. While some of their choruses are cheesy, the verses are tight and creative and their production (by DFA) is outstanding. From the intricate, unlikely samples on “The Single” to the catchy vocals and guitar of “Hollywood and Vine,” this is a great release.
Other highlights are the analogue-synth-filled “My Casio” with the lyrics, “My Casio never told me there’d be times like these,” (which should have been the album title, in my opinion) and “Cool Boots” with the chorus, “All I ever wanted was truth, peace, harmony, and anti-gravitational boots.” Even more amazing is “The Let Go,” another ode to ’80s synths with a tender rap by Jesse Levine on the loss of his mother. These guys succeed where cLOUDDEAD fails—their lyrics are intelligent, humorous, and poetic without being overly pretentious, and their vocal style is smooth rather than grating. This is the kind of hip-hop we need in 2004. Highly recommended!