Mesh  ‘Automation Baby’ (Dependent)

They pile on the beats, but the Bristol electro-rockers aren’t afraid to show their sensitive side

Mesh have been around for over 20 years and are the UK’s secret export to the EU. Making their fortune in Germany on the lucrative Pluswelt circuit, the Bristol outfit were so highly regarded at the turn of the century that their 2002 album, ‘Who Watches Over Me?’, was released on Home, a German subsidiary of Sony, where one of their label-mates was Karl Bartos.

Sometimes cruelly referred to as De-Mesh Mode, while constituents of Mesh’s sound are familiar, there is much more to them. Their catalogue contains several rousing tunes, with ‘Trust You’, ‘Little Missile’, ‘Crash’ and ‘Only Better’ as proof of their capability. Their last album, ‘A Perfect Solution’, saw a darker shift compared with its predecessor, ‘We Collide’, and ‘Automation Baby’ continues that journey, with detached virtual relationships as its thematic core. Mesh men Mark Hockings and Richard Silverthorn know their audience, so the lattice of danceable electro-rock and incidental instrumentals remains from previous albums.

The lead single, ‘Born To Lie’, is a brilliantly aggressive slice of goth glam, complete with catchy chorus and football terrace chants. Certainly, it’s a more immediate album advert than Depeche Mode’s ‘Heaven’. And like that other Germanophile IAMX, Mesh often fill the void apparent in DM’s inconsistent 21st century output. ‘Taken For Granted’, for example, is a steadfast stadium stomper in the vein of DM’s ‘Never Let Me Down Again’. The album opener, ‘Just Leave Us Alone’, is a classic Mesh anthem, while ‘You Get What’s Owed To You’ and ‘Flawless’ ensure that things are business as usual.

Although Mesh have always tackled ballads to a certain degree, the atmospheric maturity of those on ‘Automation Baby’ are a big surprise. The beautiful ‘It’s The Way I Feel’, which has hints of Ennio Morricone, shows a truly sensitive side. Shaped by acoustic guitar and string machine washes, it provides a welcome diversion, while ‘Adjust Your Set’ possesses some subtle traits despite its mechanical rhythms. And the aptly titled ‘You Couldn’t See This Coming’ layers Mark Hockings’ passionate angst over gentle step sequences and orchestrated backing to make an appropriate closer. 

Mesh have a loyal and passionate fanbase who have been very vocal about the band’s lack of critical recognition. They will be more than happy with the majority of ‘Automation Baby’. But with the sonic balance bolstered by additional strings to their bow, there could be some new recruits too.

You May Also Like