Album Review – VNV Nation “Automatic” 2011
There is a comforting consistency in VNV Nation’s output of late, even if it comes at the cost of the flashes of brilliance that occasionally brought the house down on earlier releases. While Automatic has no “Beloved” or “Perpetual” to offer, it does deliver the lush, melancholic and melodramatic darkwave (with a generous helping of pop-rave) we’ve come to expect. The usual lyrical suspects are at hand: loneliness and isolation, the corruption of power, the double-edged sword of progress, the utopia/dystopia dichotomy. If you’re not already familiar, think of it as an aural adaptation of Blade Runner produced by Merchant Ivory, or perhaps Gary Numan performing the works of Shaw.
Most of the tracks eschew hypnotic repetition in favour of more traditional pop music structures, complete with ballad-style choruses and instrumental breakdowns. Only dance floor single “Control” really bucks the trend of this kinder, gentler VNV by calling back the robotic sparseness of “Chrome” or the heavier passages of Judgement.
Automatic is recommended for any fan who has stayed onboard for the band’s evolution, as it represents another stage of that journey while remaining within familiar territory. Sure, there’s no new showstopper, but the show itself is dependably solid. 7 out of 10