When The Automatic first rose to prominence with their 2006 debut Not Accepted Anywhere, they caused confusion amongst many. On one hand, they were the quintessential 'band du jour'; hyped to death by NME, feted by indie rock-kids with haircuts, and generally overrated for being a very average band. On the other, they did churn out a couple of fine pop-rock numbers in Raoul and Monster.
Were they ever in it for the long-haul, though? Did anyone seriously expect them to make a second album, or even have the creativity to expand on their garden-variety sound? Perhaps the absence of synth player Alex Pennie, who departed the band in 2007, would mean that the young Welshmen would take a different angle on their second album - it'd certainly involve a lot less screaming, for starters.
This Is A Fix, however, is the sort of album that'll please neither fans nor newcomers. Enthusiasts will be disappointed by the lack of the propulsive radio-friendly hits that drove their debut, while the latter will wonder what's supposed to be so special about The Automatic. Bouncy, beefy rock numbers with pop pulses and emo edges are all well and good when sprinkled liberally throughout an album - but when a band almost literally re-do the same track twelve times, you have to wonder why they've bothered.
Even the lyrics here are devoid of emotion, as Rob Hawkins warbles forcefully and drippily: "I'm on your side / But we don't see eye to eye" or "I was the teenage Steve McQueen / My best performances escape me" at various points. It's only the looser, melodic '80s pop of Magazines and the layered harmonies and offbeat rhythm of Light Entertainment that prevent this album from being filed under 'utter banality'. Almost too bland to stir any emotion whatsoever.