03 November 2010

Home Video, The Automatic Process (2010): Album Review

On Home Video’s Wikipedia page, there is a prominent picture of the duo—one staring at the ceiling submerged in a bathtub; the other, lying against the wall staring emotionless at the ceiling. After listening to their new album, The Automatic Process, I would not be surprised in the slightest if that is how this Brooklyn-based duo looked the entire time they were recording: withdrawn, blasé, and all-together bored as hell. Or were those just my feelings?
“Accomplished But Dead” starts off the album on a very mellow note that sounds pretty interesting at first, but grows a bit tedious after the first minute or so when the vocals and instrumentals all become muddled together. They don’t fare much better with the next track entitled “The Smoke” which actually has a pretty exotic beat to it, but the vocals sound so monotone that it’s impossible to stay interested for the upward of 5 minutes. “Business Transaction” is the first song I actually liked—they’re able to create a haunting melody here that actually features some powerful lyrics. I think “An Accident” could potentially be nice, but they way over-due it with a variety of synthesizers that make the tune more fit for elevator music than actual iPod tunes. “I Can Make You Feel It” makes me feel pretty frustrated, quite frankly—this band just can’t seem to get it right. The song has a fairly upbeat vibe compared to the rest of the record, but never fully takes off. I would just love for an instant for Collin Ruffino to actually show some excitement in his voice and act like he cares about what he’s singing. The tune “Beatrice” is actually a bit of a step-up for them—same hazy vocals, but infused with balanced instrumentals that actually compliment and don’t overshadow Ruffino‘s voice. “The Automatic Process” sounds like some trashy European club beat with some barely audible words added in. And not some cool words either—the same one-note whispers I’ve come to expect from Home Video. So what else is new? “Every Love That Ever Was” has a mystical beat featuring progressive drums and airy synths that remind me of something you might hear in a bad 80’s workout video. And that is meant in the fondest way possible. But the vocals are sleep inducing, and don’t exude any joy that comes from the feelings of love. And what is “Description of a Struggle” supposed to be? It was like a crossbreed between Enya that Celtic singer and music you’d hear getting some cheap massage on a cruise ship. Like geez, I don’t know what would ever inspire someone to play that by choice. “No Relief” lives up to its title as no relief from the poor quality of this album. Yes, enough witty commentary about that one. Finally (yes, finally) the record concludes with “You Will Know What to Do” which isn’t actually half-bad. As a friend sitting next to me commented, it sounds very much in the style of Radiohead. The same stirring, drum-heavy instrumentals with far-off vocals that create the perfect tune to completely simmer down with.

Overall, there’s a few songs that were halfway decent—yes, I might even say I liked them. But honestly, I will probably never listen to this record again (by choice, that is). It was uninspired, humdrum and dreary. There was a complete lack of energy all around—no one song showed an ounce of passion or musical finesse. Home Video will most likely go the way of their namesake, the VHS—out of style, stacked on a shelf, forgotten in a cardboard box somewhere. And yes, I know that’s awfully harsh, but The Automatic Process was an all-around painful record to listen to, and I do not recommend subjecting oneself to this level of lethargy.

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