Credit: Logan White

The women of Automatic were born to be in an art-punk band, but they’re still finding their footing. Much of the Los Angeles group’s press coverage has treated them like they’re learning their craft in real time while growing an audience through social media and handshakes. While that may be true, they’ve also had more career and creative advantages than your average indie outfit. Drummer Lola Dompé is the daughter of Bauhaus drummer Kevin Haskins, and singer and synthesist Izzy Glaudini is the daughter of playwright Robert Glaudini and sister of Criminal Minds and Sopranos actor Lola Glaudini. Suffice to say they’ve had a leg up accessing artistic tools and professional guidance.

Still, Automatic aren’t aspiring to be arena rockers. Much of their charm comes from how they try to reconcile the inspiration they’ve found in DIY music scenes with their inheritances—not just a certain amount of industry access but also upbringings that included being exposed early to groundbreaking countercultural bands such as Suicide and Devo. On their 2019 debut album, Signals, they lean into an energetic, bass-heavy postpunk minimalism while halfheartedly brooding about how capitalism organizes everyday life. Their latest album, June’s Excess, embraces a poppier sensibility while wrestling with the social realities of the pandemic and climate change. It’s sometimes interesting, but it’s rarely adventurous—and it lacks the cohesion of Signals

Their vision comes through better in their music videos, which borrow from Warholian poptimism (“Venus Hour”) while toying with a Cold War aesthetic of anxiety (“New Beginning”). Automatic’s videos are flirty and fun, and they demonstrate a studied understanding of the roots of their audio and visual aesthetics while trying to situate them in the “now.” In “New Beginning” they head to outer space to escape a world on fire, drawing a parallel between the nuclear arms race (where the video gets much of its visual language) and present-day global warming. The video also functions like a survey of counterculture ideas from the past 60 years, most overtly in its literary references, which include Soviet urban-planning magazines and Monica Sjöö and Barbara Mor’s book The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth. It questions to what extent money or technology can save us.

While Automatic are still maturing as a band, they’re consciously trying to make the most of their advantages while proving they have something to say. The group shows a lot of promise, and it’s worth your time to watch them come into their own.

Automatic The Mall opens. Sun 10/23, 8:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, $15, 21+