After a year of scheming since the astral electronic single Happy House, forming a live band and playing an explosive debut, Drew Linehan's pop project Automatic Blue surges back to life with Antoinette.
Antoinette used to belong to another band. That was Skrujax, an ill-equipped band of young punks effortlessly eliminated in the first round of the UCC Battle of the Bands, and resigned to its death after what their drummer described as a “tumultuously horrendous experience fuelled by alcohol and self-doubt” at their final performance at the Midleton Tattoo Festival. I’ll spare you the details, and for the love of god, don’t look at their cover art.
Drew Linehan was always ill-equipped for Skrujax life; many of the pop songs he’d written in the background of those days became his first steps into the world as Automatic Blue.
His first collection of songs, Baby, released on Bandcamp and SoundCloud, was Hausu’s third "official" release. His singles, Akira and Happy House, available widely on streaming platforms, revealed himself as more than capable of making widescreen synthpop beauties, filled with lush atmospheric synths, vocoder-drenched climaxes, and tight bitcrushed drums.
In between sessions with Ghostking is Dead and Arthur Valentine, and working on his own 2019 releases, Linehan dragged Antoinette out of its tattoo-festival-tomb to transform it into a synthpop monolith - enormous guitar chords, an undeniable groove in its synth bass, and earworm melodies.
Linehan places the carefree optimism of his younger self against a fear of loneliness and inadequacy in an age of digital dating pools, switching narratives between his young hopeful self and modern-day disillusionment. He casts Leah Hartnett to sing a hook “Want love? Define love. Online, it’s so easy...”, as the track swells from melodic synth bassline into power-chord climaxes, keeping the track rolling with a kind of Max Martin energy.
Linehan’s evolution as a home producer, cooking up bangers on his kitchen table, is immediately obvious on this track - the mix is clear yet punchy on this tune - but it’s a beginning. This standalone single will be followed by further solo material for 2019, and even more collaborations as a producer with other Hausu artists.
And with Automatic Blue finally formed as a tour-ready act - featuring Alex Gough, Matthew Corrigan of Ghostking is Dead, and Jack Corrgian of Actualacid, the song’s live legacy thankfully survived Midleton. Let’s hope they’re a forgiving bunch.