Automato

Automato

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    7
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This album starts off with a deep and deliberate hip-hop backbeat on the very promising "Focus," which is quite focused, bringing to mind Jay-Z and his "99 Problems" hit but slightly lighter. Plodding along nicely, Automato is also influenced by bands like the Beastie Boys and A Tribe Called Quest with keyboards and piano in the mix. The group keeps the momentum on "The Single," although it's not quite as groovy, but is helped with solid harmonies, group interaction, and frat house party ambience. The rap-oriented hip-hop fares better than the mellow arrangement on "My Casio," which sounds like a paltry yet revamped new wave cover. Automato also reverts to well-worn rap clich├ęs, making this song an arduous listen. Fortunately, the genre-pushing "Walk into the Light" is far funkier and shines, recalling Prince circa "Purple Rain" with a great, tight chorus. "I take my feet out of my socks and put a pebble inside/So even when I walk I got a rock in my stride," they sing on "Gold of Desert Kings," which goes back to an old-school urban flair. One clunker, however, is the uninspired and flamenco-tinged pop on "Hollywood and Vine," which is best left to people like the Roots or N.E.R.D. Another less than impressive tune is the feathery "Capes Billowing," which features one too many progressive rock characteristics. Near the home stretch they go back to their strengths, particularly on "The Let Go," which will induce head bobbing or limb shaking despite its cheesy keyboard accents. Ditto for the midtempo piano-driven "How to Read a Person Like a Book," which has a lot of flow. Unfortunately, "Hope" is never-ending, as a guitar solo and extended jam diminish the earlier moments. While not a terrific album, the good often outweighs the occasional filler.

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