"Automaton" is as leftfield as you could possibly imagine from a Jamiroquai song.
Adriane Pontecorvo: Jamiroquai goes full cyborg on restless electro track “Automaton”. Jay Kay’s voice is still disco-smooth, but even he isn’t immune from the coldness of the world, his lyrics mourning the betrayal of the future, the dissatisfying present. He doesn’t quite nail the funky rap break (if you want to call it that) near the end, but the quirks in the robotic melody give this enough interesting texture to please audiences who might have rolled their eyes at previous feel-good Jamiroquai hits. Really, though, what kind of world do we live in if even Jay Kay is feeling existential dread? [8/10]
Paul Carr: This brave piece of lunacy from Jamiroquai sounds a little like something Aphex Twin might do for a bit of a laugh. It's full of skittering, glitchiness with all melody systematically removed from the verses. Instead, he relies on “futuristic” sounds and out of sync blips and bleeps. The chorus is more reminiscent of the funky, catchy sound that you would expect but it is soon overridden by detached, digital voices and cold, austere synths. If that wasn’t odd enough, he breaks out into an Afrika Bambaataa inspired rap. It is as left field as you could imagine from a Jamiroquai song. Whether it works, is open to debate, but it is certainly bold. [6/10]
Andrew Paschal: An exciting if uneven club number, "Automaton" is saturated to its limit with neon synths. The track's form mimics the malfunctioning machine of its title, brief stuttering whirs, and glitches punctuating the dense, driving verses. The chorus feels like it could come from another song entirely, adding to the overall jerkiness of the ride. "Automaton" comes across as a bit desperate to see peoples' hands in the air, but its relentlessness is not wasted entirely, as it still makes for an engaging experience. [6/10]
Chris Ingalls: This caught me a bit off-guard. Jamiroquai’s calling card used to be a devotion to booty-shaking Stevie Wonderisms, but here he really ups the technology stakes, making it much more of a futuristic affair. After years of searching the past for inspiration, he’s looking forward. A bit of a shame -- there are some great musical ideas here, but I prefer his more organic stuff. But who knows – the rest of the album may blow me away. [7/10]