Album Review
Telephone - Automatic Album Cover

Telephone - Automatic

Reviewed by
Telephone - Automatic
Record Label: Cobra Music
Release Date: June 19, 2007
Portland, Oregon has something to shout about, namely their synth-pop ensemble Telephone, helmed by former Dandy Warhol co-founder Eric Hedford. Hedford takes charge of lead vocals and plays synthesizers and guitars on the band’s latest album Automatic. Joining Hedford are guitarist Scott Fox, drummer Paulie Pulvirenti, and bassist Steven Birch. Automatic is the band’s first full-length album released by Cobra Music following their 2003 EP We Are Telephone. The music is a step back into the synth textured spatials of bands like A Flock of Seagulls and Missing Persons while simultaneously taking a leap forward into a new dimension of club-emo electronica planked by contemporary go-go funk beats and smoking guitar effects. The band’s melodic creations have a familiar sensation to ‘80s new wavers while honing a new domain in club music.

The glittering synths and spiraling mazes on tracks like “Shout About It,” “Automatic,” and “Guided” have the club parameters of Blondie and Monsters Are Waiting while delivering lightning rod guitar psychedelics and dance-pop rhythms. The melodic vibe in the electronica has a milky fluidity which Hedford’s deep-pitched vocals dunk into, and the segments complement each other perfectly. It is as if these songs were tailored for Hedford’s vocals. The synth-rock vestiges of “Shine” synchronize slender drum patters with tightly wind synth patterns melting tones into each other to make a creamy combination. The band also fuses folk textures with synth-streaked psychedelics on numbers like “In December” and “Mystery Girl,” scaffolding folk-panes similar to Belle & Sebastian with electronica-splays.

The synth-rock kinetics of “The Visitor” create waves of scuffling effects anchored by rigid drum strikes and taut guitar chords that change the dynamics into a go-go funk beating and entangling synth sweeps. Most of the songs have a club music frequency mode by pulsating rhythms and stylish electronica like on “Fascination” and “Burning Pieces.” The torque of the guitar chords on “More” have tight curves overlapped by chains of club-emo drenched melodics liken to The Secret Handshake and engaging rhythmic percussions. The band counters their club mettle with softly spangled synths and a waltzing glide in the willowy tempo of “Goodbye” as the acoustic guitar overtones on “Falling” are shingled by smooth puffing synths.

Telephone dress up their synth-pop catacombs with melodic tousles and tight pulsing rhythms. The music is wickedly active and uplifting while swigging agreeable esthetics. The album is an amalgamation of classic new wave and modern emo-rock. The melodic consonance is everywhere and yet Hedford tells in a press release that it was a rough ride making this album. “We had fun, drama, lots of stress, and questioned whether the band would go on, but after all of it, we made a record I am proud of,” says Hedford. It’s an album worth attention by virtue of the fact that it’s an album with a good feeling vibe.
This review is a user submitted review from Susan Frances. You can see all of Susan Frances's submitted reviews here.
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