The Menace of Mechanical Music, the Leeds based band’s first full length album, is inspired by marching band leader John Philip Sousa’s 1906 essay of the same name, which warns of a future deferred to automation. Its main themes are the value of creative identity in an automated age, the increasingly disposable nature of art and where that leaves its creators. In a perceived music world filled with soulless digital production, the band has created an album with emotion poured into it.
The opening track, Baby Rattlesnake, is one of the highlights. It has a dreamy, ethereal sound reminiscent of the shoegaze era, and bands like Yo La Tengo and Slowdive. The album seems to drift slightly onto the psychedelic side of things, with many of the songs possessing a hazy, surreal quality. Soaring synth adds a lightness that enhances almost every song.
The Menace of Mechanical Music is split into three parts. The first six tracks are mostly swirling dream pop, and then comes a musical interlude in the form of soft guitar in (DIFFUSER). It is in the last two sections, divided by the distorted sounds of (PARTY), that the band begins to take more risks and showcase their true range. Minor chords and warped vocals lend Rock Hudson Tragedy a certain eerie element, while slow paced drums and mournful vocals in Slowest Hype give it a more soulful tone than the rest of the album.
The album is not one that commits itself to just one genre. The band have incorporated a little bit of everything, even adding some punk in the final track, Quit Reading. No matter the genre, the skill of the band shines through. The vocalists themselves have incredible range, from high and dreamy in Sleeptype Auction to a rich huskiness in Handsome Machine. But one thing that remains consistent is the raw, genuine feeling that’s anything but mechanical.