Wow. It was extremely difficult for me to come up with a definitive rating for this album by Your Man Alex Smith. I struggled with my conscience and morals, lost sleep and hair, and even talked to God once trying to find the answer. Spoiler: it wasn’t God I was talking to, but rather a waffle Bart tossed up onto the ceiling. Finally, I settled on the rating you see above. Here are my thoughts and reasons.
First and foremost, I’m absolutely in love, and let’s be honest here, a little bit in lust, with the first track on the EP Guilty. “Little Automaton” is the sole reason this review is on the high side of the number five. Holy shit, what an amazing track! If the entire EP was just six different versions of this song, I’d give it a 10 out of 10. The sheer scope of the song is astounding. The composition is something dreams, sexy sexy dreams, are made of. Let me break it down for you. It’s an operatic masterpiece that hits you on a multitude of levels. It’s an acid trip of a circus romp through a plethora of musical indulgences. It sounds like the opening of a Disney or Pixar musical where the villain and the hero share the same space and it’s clear who is who, what their roles are, and how the ending will unfold.
As for the lyrics for the song, they’re very clever. They weave a great narrative that has me picturing some scared, frumpy-looking entity looking out at the world for the first time while their maker tells them all the rules of their new life. I also picture this little creature is born in a castle that’s very blue and encapsulated in some 16-bit Castlevania graphics. Seriously, it’s such a great song. Go listen to “Little Automaton” now, at this link right here!
Sadly, after listening to the aforementioned track, I thought this album was going to be a concept album, or at the very least treat the subsequent tracks on the EP with the same grandiose ambition. Maybe I got my hopes up too high, but the rest of the album was lackluster to me. While being technically sound, I find it lacking in direction. Each song has a different vibe that never really feels in its place. Also, the chorus in the fourth track, “Guilty,” sounds like it’s ripped straight from the Johnny Cash version of “Hurt.” Like, it’s a pitch perfect copy. Since Your Man Alex Smith is from Australia, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and say that maybe the J.C. just never got that big in the down under. Still, I’m taken out of “Guilty” every time the chorus comes around, and as a musician, that’s a massive no-go for me.
What do you think, dear reader? Am I being too hard on our commonwealth neighbour? Do my critiques have some meat to them, or are they as tasteless as a dingo eating your baby? As always, give the album a listen here and hit me up in the comments below to give me your hottest of takes.
Written by Aaron Deck
*edited by Kate Erickson