Album Review: Automatic Loveletter

May 26, 2010 at 9:45 pm 1 comment

For fans of Paramore, Meg & Dia, Fall Out Boy & A Rocket to the Moon.

The first time I saw Automatic Loveletter play, it was at a tiny venue on the outskirts of Boston. They were opening for The White Tie Affair and Secondhand Serenade, both of whom were virtually unknown at the time, but have since become staples in the pop/rock scene. At first glance, I wrote lead vocalist/guitarist Juliet off as just another cookie-cutter female vocalist and expressed my disinterest to my then-boyfriend. But I was proven wrong as Juliet pulled out an acoustic guitar and played “Makeup Smeared Eyes,” the fan favorite which would soon become the top-played song in my iTunes library. My impression of her did a complete 180 as she sang emotionally about a lost love in front of my eyes. Her voice was warm, fragile and honest and the lyrics spoke to me immediately.

Three years later, Automatic Loveletter has shoved its way into the list of my all-time favorite bands and I’ve seen them play at least four more times. I’ve adopted several of Juliet’s vocal techniques into my own singing and her lyrics have inspired many of mine as well. It comes as no surprise then that ALL’s first full-length album would be something I’ve been waiting for with insane anticipation.

Set to drop on June 22nd, Truth or Dare boasts twelve tracks of beautiful pop rock from the Tampa, Florida natives. If you don’t know who Juliet is, well, you’re probably not reading this review. But if you are, you may recognize this 24-year old’s signature raspy vocals from her guest appearances in All Time Low‘s “Remembering Sunday,” 3OH!3‘s cover of “Careless Whisper,” Secondhand Serenade’s cover of “Fix You,” Cartel‘s “Lose It” or LoveHateHero‘s “Theatre of Robots.” So basically…she’s a huge deal. Got it now?

The record opens with the pounding  anthem (and first single) “Heart Song,” showcasing gang vocals and catchy sing-a-long chorus. The song is a departure from the group’s older material, opting for a gritty, sassy rock attitude over the vulnerability of songs like “Makeup Smeared Eyes.”

Following “Heart Song” are “Don’t Let Me Down” and “Fade Away,” which recall the traditional sound of “My Goodbye” and “The Day that Saved Us,” two tracks from the band’s self-titled 2009 release. I was particularly impressed with “Fade Away”‘s careful and perfectly-executed vocal lines.

The fourth track on the album is “Hush,” which brings me to the only critique I have of Truth or Dare. Five of these tracks were previously recorded in various forms in the past (I was hoping for a full album of all new music…I can dream, can’t I?). Apparently, Juliet recorded a lot of music in the past and the miscellaneous tracks have been scattered into cyberspace over the years. “Hush,” in particular, has been re-worked and re-recorded at least four times now, so I’m not sure it needed to be done again…especially since it is nearly identical to the self-titled version. Still, it was definitely the best performance of the song yet and it flows nicely with the rest of the album.

Check out “Heart Song” below and click here to purchase it on iTunes!

The fifth track is titled “Story of My Life” and I liked it instantly upon first listen. As expected, the song tells the story of Juliet’s life and how she pursued her goal to be a musician, which is a nice break from all the talk of broken hearts. Track number 6 is a curious one, as it is a re-recorded version of “The Day that Saved Us”…but now, it is called “Day They Saved Us.” Being a lyric geek, I’d love to know the reason for the change….anyways, this song is essentially identical to the version on the self-titled album (save for a new bridge/outro which adds an interesting break from the rest of the song).

Following “Day” is another new song called “To Die For,” which adds to the collection of ALL’s songs about the hardships of new love. After “Die” is another oldie, “Let it Ride.” I don’t have the original version of this one, so I can’t compare the two…but this song will have you aching to take a road trip as soon as possible, if only just so you can blast it out of your windows.

“Eyes On You” is yet another re-recorded track, and my go-to song for feeling optimistic about a new love. It’s a fantastic and powerful ballad, that truly shows how impressive Juliet’s voice is. Adding to the string of old songs is “My Goodbye,” which was also on last year’s self-titled album. The song is a re-working of the acoustic song “Black Ink Revenge,” but it actually translates quite nicely to a driving rock song.

The last two songs are both new- “Butterflies” and “Back to Life.” “Butterflies” opens with biting vocals: “Here I go, I’m gonna start an anthem/for all my girls who went and blew their chances/ and now- now they suck on a cigarette.” This song shows a different, more shameful side of Juliet as she recounts a bad relationship: “I felt like a goddess, but the truth is, I was so fucking heartless.””Back to Life” starts off as an acoustic song and opens up into a dark ballad and finishes the album on a strong and haunting note.


With it’s intertwining of the old and the new, Truth or Dare is sure to please existing fans and certainly gain a whole slew of new ones. The album’s lyrics are as edgy and honest as Simms herself, and her quirky yet show-stopping voice separates her from the pack of whiny teen vocalists. This band has learned the formula for a perfect pop song and they execute it flawlessly again and again on each release.  Truth or Dare will undoubtedly solidify Automatic Loveletter as the hottest upcoming band in the scene.

PS- Don’t miss them on this year’s Warped Tour!

Rating: 5/5 – A

Track Listing:

1. Heart Song

2. Don’t Let Me Down

3. Fade Away

4. Hush

5. Story of My Life

6. Day They Saved Us

7. To Die For

8. Let it Ride

9. Eyes on You

10. My Goodbye

11. Butterflies

12. Back to Life

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Alice  |  January 11, 2011 at 6:26 am

    What a fantastic review!

    Reply

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