Tuesday, 11 August 2009

84: The Automatic - Monster

Drowned In Sound gave it 0/10 and described it as "ditchwater". Contact Music called it "daft, irresponsible and unforgettably irritating." 'Monster' is one of those tracks that divides opinion, and I'm firmly on the positive side. Let's face it - in the light entertainment stakes, 'Monster' is at the lowest common denominator end of the spectrum.... three chords, a riff so simple that even I could play it, and a vocal that just repeats the last few words of each line to fill some time.

But that chorus? What a chorus. The song just bursts into life with the refrain of "what's that coming over the hill, is it a monster?" It's one of those lyrics that just sticks. And it obviously did so with the British record-buying public, who purchased it en masse as it rose to #4 in the UK singles chart. And just like the previous song in this countdown, it quickly became adopted by sports fans, in particular Tottenham Hotspur (and latterly Sunderland) fans, who sung "what's that coming over the hill, is it Chimbonda?" at their French full back.

What impresses me most when I hear 'Monster' is that despite being a fairly candid, post-nu-metal rock anthem, it actually revolves around a dance beat, which becomes most apparent as the guitar solo merges into the bridge, that momentum building, Alex Pennie gradually increasing in volume as he first sings, then shouts and finally yells "face down, home town, it looks so grey". And then, the pivotal moment of the song, the moment that earns this song a place in my top 100 of the decade - the guitar, bass and drums silenced, and for a split second, just the chorus line remains. Look, it's not a particularly clever song, but if you hear it in an indie disco over the next 20 years (and chances are you will), I defy you to avoid bouncing around, arms aloft. It's a drinking anthem, in the same vein as Reef's 'Place Your Hands'... a bit stupid, but you know that deep down, you actually love it.


  1. I have a video of everyone dancing to this at the underground at my leaving party!

  2. Ben, apprezzo molto questo tuo blog musicale :-)
    La musica è di tutti i generi ma in ogni caso bella da ascoltare.
    Complimenti, Alessandro