When it comes to early alt-rock bands that helped to define the “shoegaze” movement, I look to none other than The Jesus and Mary Chain and their 1989 release Automatic. This album was their third, coming after Psycho Candy, that donned the popular track “Just Like Honey”—you might remember it from the end of the movie Lost In Translation, and it also came after their album Darklands.
The Reid brothers (William and Jim) created a masterclass in sonic rebellion on this album using programmed drums and synth bass sounds. Critics originally panned this album, but who cares what they think. This album, in my opinion, is their crowning achievement and a triumph that helped to pave the way for other bands to use programable instruments to create music. It even caught the attention of The Pixies who covered the pop anthem “Head On” on their 1991 album Trompe Le Monde (another favorite album of mine).
There is more of a pop sensibility to this album that helps to drive it forward, both musically and lyrically. It’s a full on departure from their first studio album Psycho Candy. From the very first track, “Here Comes Alice,” the band establishes their trademark sound of distorted guitars and haunting vocals. One of the standout tracks on Automatic is the mesmerizing “Blues from a Gun.” The relentless barrage of overdriven, fuzzy guitars and driving drums creates a wall of sound that reverberates everywhere.
If you’re akin to the slower, melodic songs from their earlier albums like “Just Like Honey”, “Cut Dead” or “Deep On Perfect Morning” then you’ll find the song “Drop” to be another fantastic ballad, something that they don’t get enough credit for.
Listen to this album from start to finish. There are no skips.