Head Automatica is the [apparently] much anticipated collaboration of vocalist Daryl Palumbo (formerly of hardcore band Glassjaw), and electronic whiz Dan ‘The Automator’ Nakamura (formerly of Handsome Boy Modelling School and Gorillaz). Their debut album, ‘Decadence’, was released in the States in August 2004.
In typical NZ style, it hasn’t yet been released here, but luckily I was able to download a copy, since I’m impatient when it comes to music. So what did I think? Well, here goes …
Head Automatica is not your standard band – the whole album was produced by Palumbo and Dan ‘The Automator’, and only since its release have they actually taken on a live touring band (to meet the touring commitments that they were offered).
However, the album itself is heavy on live drums, electric guitar and bass. But that’s not all – its also heavy on electronic elements, and piano. As a result, any given part of any given song could sound like Alien Ant Farm, or Gorillaz, or Foo Fighters, or Franz Ferdinand, or The Killers.
What sets ‘Decadence’ apart is the outstanding song writing. Singer Palumbo describes the album as a party album, and he’s not far off – the album has a real party sound to it. All the songs are uplifting to listen to (none of the downer sounds you would expect from a former metal singer), all the songs are reasonably short and all (without exception) are catchy as anything.
‘Decadence’ toes the line between being a fantastic, catchy, party album and being an annoying pop album, but luckily Palumbo’s vocal talent, and the groups songwriting talent, keeps it firmly on the side of good.
Highlight tracks include the radio hit ‘Beating Heart Baby’, possibly one of the most catchy songs of all time; ‘Brooklyn is Burning’, which has a definite Gorillaz feel to it, but is great none the less; ‘At The Speed Of A Yellow Bullet’, the opening track and a great way to kick off an album; ‘The Razor’, a fantastic alternative track, in the mold of Franz Ferdinand or Lostprophets; and ‘Solid Gold Telephone’, a track taken straight out of the “How to Write Good Rock Songs” handbook.
The other factor that Head Automatica has in its favour is the talent of singer Daryl Palumbo. I had never really heard him before, but my impression is that he is one heck of a singer. Palumbo manages to hit some notes that I wouldn’t have expected from a former metal singer, never mind the style of singing.
Overall, HA’s album ‘Decadence’ is a great album, with good quality songs and some great vocals. Add to that the fact that Dan ‘The Automator’ is involved, and you’ve got an 8 out of 10.