The Jesus and Mary Chain's third studio album was a mixed bag, a touch rougher and more aggressive-sounding than Darklands, but still not the equivalent of Psychocandy for sheer kicks. Part of the problem was the actual studio setup; while soon-to-be superstar producer/engineer Alan Moulder did a great job on the sound, finding a way to mix thick guitar rumbles without sounding uncommercial, the fact was that the band was really just the brothers at this point. Like on Darklands, all drumming was courtesy of machines, and here the approach often felt monotonous; Bobby Gillespie's approach, for better or worse, really was distinct and individual, fitting with the style of the band beautifully. Meanwhile, much of the bass was also created via keyboards, another unusual switch. When Automatic was on, though, it was on, especially courtesy of another blazingly brilliant single. If "Sidewalking" was a T. Rex homage, "Head On" paid tribute to rock's eternal image of supercharged cool; one can almost smell the black leather as Jim Reid delivers the ultimate "Break on Through" lyric: "Makes you wanna feel/Makes you wanna try/Makes you wanna blow the stars from the sky." The music sure didn't hurt either; even the synth bass sounded perfectly right. Other songs, like the brawling "Blues From a Gun" and the aggro-sneer of "Her Way of Praying," suggest a new energy on the part of all involved, though likely enough they came across better live in the end with the Reids' then-touring band of the time. Meanwhile, there are definitely some sharp individual moments: the sudden massive feedback clang during the instrumental break on "Coast to Coast," the "Sweet Jane"-inspired melody on the nicely moving "Halfway to Crazy," and the hint of strings on the brief "Drop."
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AllMusic Review by Ned Raggett