Autons are named after a_ Dr Who _monster (living store mannequins, to be precise – though I don’t actually think the things need to come to life to be slightly freaky), but are not here to kill or enslave the human race. Which is nice to know, isn’t it? Instead, they make electro rock/pop using keys, guitars, drum machines and distantly emotive vocals. Their take on this concoction of noises sometimes misfires, but their debut album Short Term Manifesto still has plenty of moments that’re worth hearing.
Such as? Well, there’s single ‘Snakes in the Mirror’, opening with a blast of guitars and feedback which spawns a too-fast-too-follow synth line before the punchy drums and breathlessly detached vocals kick into a high speed pop oddity ended by a shatter of broken mirror-glass. And next track ‘Shine Tester, Shine Tester’ isn’t bad either, with a brittle synth line weaving in and out of a bludgeoning pulse of guitars. ‘Ice Major’ has horribly organic, squelching synths which make the vocal claim that “Maybe I’m the Ice Major” sound far more threatening than such apparently meaningless words have any right to be. ‘Devil in Me’ has a synth line like rain under crunching guitars; ‘It’s a Strange Thing’ is kinda daft but it does swing…
…And so on. Autons’ compulsivity lies in marrying fairly straightforward, unpretentious mixtures of sound - catchy hooks, strong beats, bold lines and bright colours – to an emotional context of oddly detached strong feelings. This is backed up and picked out by the odder moments in the music: the rhythms that stop so unexpectedly that the whole song jolts; the speed of the synths giving things a breathless quality; the odd sound effects peeking out from behind walls of full-on rock noise. And although the resulting album certainly isn’t perfect, it does become more intriguing the more you listen to it. And plus, in places, it’s catchy as fuck.