Head Automatica – Decadence (CD)

Head Automatica – Decadence / 2004 Warner Bros / 11 Tracks / http://www.headautomatica.com / http://www.warnerbros.com / Reviewed 01 November 2004

Starting off “Decadence” with a Strokes and Hives-influenced track, “At The Speed of A Yellow Bullet”, Daryl’s first side project to Glassjaw captures a completely different side of eir. Keeping the same general sound, albeit incorporating a funky synth line and shuffling drum beat, “Brooklyn Is Burning” does much to continue fleshing out the band’s song without going completely out on a tangent. Perfect fodder for Clearchannel, Head Automatica has that insightful amalgamation of a myriad of styles, kept simple in order to approach the largest fan base. Finally tapping the rich well of emo music during “Beating Heart Baby”, the track seems more directed towards the math/shoegazer rock of The Red Hot Valentines and The Killers than directed towards 70s arena rock. The second set of vocals during “Beating Heart Baby”, along with the omnipresent bass line, add a fullness, even bordering on lushness, to the track that seems oddly absent on a number of tracks during “Decadence”.

For example, the funky-dance beat of “Please Please Please” seems to be anti-septic; each of the guitar blurbs and synth lines seem to be a little too perfect; even the rich tones of Daryl’s voice can’t dispel this offsetting feeling. The snottiness of Daryl’s voice becomes unbearable during “King Caesar”, which is only rendered worse by a cluttered and unoriginal backbeat – I’ve heard it before, in every Newsboys song. Even the lyrics on “King Caesar” seem uninspired: “Hip Hip Hooray, You’re A Saving Grace, Here’s To You and Your Poker Face”. Bringing back the bass in a strong way during “The Razor”, in a way that sounds more Clash and Police-ish than anything, the track is one of the stronger on “Decadence”. Strong, spat-out lyrics by Daryl and the ska-guitars provide the high end where the previously-mentioned bass and the bass-y drums add much to the low.

Head Automatica is an inspired step from Glassjaw, and the disc is perfect in a party type of setting. However, some of the tracks are weak in Daryl’s sent-in Claudio rip-off vocals (Dance Party Plus), and yet others are weak in the production and arrangement (King Caesar). The continued meshing of different musical styles in such a self-contained package is a victory for Daryl, and hopefully more will be done under this guise, as it holds tons of potential. Daryl just has not divorced eirself completely from eir previous incarnation, and I feel that is what is holding eir back.

Top Tracks: Disco Hades, Brooklyn is Burning

Rating: 5.8/10

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