There was a time not so long ago, when you couldn't get away from the Automatic and their smash hit single Monster. It was everywhere pleasing some (them and their record label) and annoying many (the general public) yet it had to be applauded, to get that much air play on your first album as an indie band from a small Welsh town is mighty impressive and the stuff of dreams for most up and coming groups. Since then though its all been very different, the departure of annoying shouting keyboard player Pennie as well a split with B-Unique has seen the band form their own label and take a new mature direction. It's a brave move from the boys and one that allows them to make an album on their terms, devoid of extreme financial restraints and the artistic shackles often applied by labels.
The new found freedom certainly shows, out go the catchy chorus's and unstoppable hooks of Raoul, Monster and Steve McQueen and in comes a far heavier sound, a much more power chord driven formula that places its impetus on slow build up rather than sudden impact.
If their last album This Is A Fix was a step away from their early boyish sound, then Tear the signs down is a total departure altogether. Sure there are one or two tracks here with firm pop sensibilities, List, which boasts an 80s keyboards and an MGMT flavoured chorus over some heavy chord thrashing, is chart friendly to say the least. The same can be said of Cannot be saved, an anthemic belter that's sure to be a live favourite on their upcoming tour.
However it's in the shape of Something Else, screaming vocals and thrashing grunge guitars, that The Automatic show their full transformation off properly. High Time also finds the band in unknown territory with a far more mellowed approach, featuring violins and tempered guitars to impressive effect.
You get the impression the Automatics days of top 5 albums are past them, today's fickle world of music moves on quickly and a change of direction although much needed, can sometimes cause a band to lose what people loved in the first place. Still this feels like a fresh start for the Automatic and one that they will be hoping sees them taken far more seriously than in the past. And anyway, its on their terms this time.