Autoheart - Punch
The challenge facing Autoheart on their debut is that these days any indie-pop band with a piano will get compared to erstwhile stadium botherers Coldplay - a tag which comes with all sorts of baggage. Not helping matters is the fact they share a producer (Danton Supple) with the ‘Yellow’ boys, but whilst that comparison is unfair there is a similarity in their ability to write a catchy tune, both uplifting and arena-ready, while remaining intimate and fragile.
That’s as far as it goes though - you won’t mistake this for a Coldplay album. In fact you might have heard Autoheart before but not know it; they were The Gadsdens before a name change to make them more rounded and less frontman Jody Gadsden focused. Although along with keysman Simon Neilson, it’s Gadsden’s distinctive vocals that make debut album Punch stand out from the crowd.
The opening piano of ‘Anniversary’ lasts only for a few bars before Gadsden’s voice and the first of many catchy drum beats makes things interesting. The perfect way to start then, and the beginning of a flow that shows how tracklisting choices can contribute to the listening experience. ‘Factories’ keeps the feelgood factor high on the back of piano riffs and fast-paced - if awkward - lyrical delivery (“Do you recall with a vigour? / With our pistol we can trigger / We can violate the liquor on the floor.”). ‘Control’ keeps you hooked with its low piano melody, before the fantastic and simple ‘Agoraphobia’ brings a little melancholic feeling, building slowly with Gadsden’s androgynous, almost pleading, vocals.
That one song is an anomaly in the first half, the ebullient ‘Lent’ returns to the party, and the jolly take on relationship troubles that is ‘Moscow’ continues the fun. Actually about four years old, ‘The Sailor Song’ pumps the beat and ushers in a more contemplative section, with the aching ‘Hungover In The City Of Dust’ and ‘Santa Fe’ two more stand outs.
The most promising thing about Punch is it feels a complete piece of work, with no song wasted. It’s in turn radio friendly, festival ready, at times intimate, and always interesting. A truly fine start then.