Newton Faulkner
Hand Built By Robots


4.5
superb

Review

by Michael Philp USER (42 Reviews)
September 18th, 2010 | 10 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The album title is not only ironic, its also untrue, as Hand Built By Robots is a stunning showcase of emotion, all wrapped up in a neat little folk-pop package.

Though comparisons to other folk artists are inevitable, Newton Faulkner defies most of them during the 43 minute run time of his debut album. From the first notes of “Intro” through to its seamless transition into “To The Light”, it seems he might fall into the same category as John Butler or Tallest Man On Earth. Even when the synths come in at the end of “To The Light” it isn’t enough to pull him out of that box. Its not until the opening chords of “Dream Catch Me” that he sets himself apart from his contemporaries. When those chords grace your ears, it’s then that you realise, neither Butler nor Mattson would ever produce something this upbeat.
“Ah, here we go,” you say, “So he’s just a happy folk singer?”
Not quite, there’s more to him, and this album, than just that.

Think of the ups and downs you have in daily life, and then imagine them put into words and sung on an album. Hand Built By Robots is that album. I’ll be damned if you can’t relate to Faulkner’s moody sincerity in “Uncomfortably Slow”, particularly when he almost pleads “So don’t take my photograph, cause I don’t wanna know how it looks to feel like this.” Or to his sheer honesty in “People Should Smile More” (“I can’t change the world because trying to make a difference makes it worse”) You’ll also find numerous references to daydreams and escaping reality, from the ridiculousness of “Gone In The Morning” to the more serious takes on the subject, like “Dream Catch Me”. Not a daydreamer? Try songs like the slow-burning “Teardrop”, a cover of the Massive Attack song. It contains arguably Faulkner’s best vocal performance, with a soaring chorus that captivates unlike anything else.

Most of the time the guitar work is skilfully subtle finger-picking and guitar tapping rhythms. Though it might have been able to sustain the instrumental section, it’s never forced to hold that weight for long, a wise choice in hind-sight. Electro-pop influences come to fruition on several occasions, such as the aforementioned “To The Light”. Hell, the very fact that he covered a Massive Attack song shows at least some interest in the genre. The drums aren’t too bad either, nothing overly special (this is a pop album for godsakes) but they still produce some interesting sections, like the bass rhythm in “Gone In The Morning”. The one piano ballad (“Straight Towards The Sun”) slots in quite nicely as well, there isn’t a hint of forced sentimentality to be found anywhere on it.

In fact, the whole album is remarkably sincere. You can’t help but be drawn in to Faulkner’s down-in-the-dumps story in “Uncomfortably Slow”, while songs like “Dream Catch Me” seem to speak directly to our deepest desires. Unlike what the album title would suggest, Hand Built By Robots is anything but emotionless. It’s the exact opposite, tied together with a wonderful mix of folk and electro-pop.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Eclectic
September 18th 2010


3302 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hopefully there are fewer grammatical errors then on my last review, I swear to God I proof read this about 3 times thoroughly.

Gyromania
September 18th 2010


15717 Comments


Great review dude. Pos'd.

Fugue
September 18th 2010


7353 Comments


"The album title is not only ironic, its also untrue, "

Don't quite understand what you mean by this Michael, it might just be me though.

Eclectic
September 18th 2010


3302 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks Matt

The title is ironic because "hand built" implies a caring touch, which is juxtaposed with the implied coldness of robots.
Its untrue because this album was obviously not hand built by robots as there is quite a lot of emotion present.

Fugue
September 18th 2010


7353 Comments


Yeah I guess I get that, I'm just not really sure you need to state that it's untrue but idk, it's a good review regardless, although being the nit-picker that I am, there is an "its" in the first paragraph that should be an "it's", I'll let you find it ;-).

tombits
September 18th 2010


3470 Comments


i don't like this guy at all, but good review man.

hectorkemp
September 18th 2010


53 Comments


nice review, but when this is played 24/7 on Melbourne radio you tend to be turned off by it

Powerban
September 18th 2010


2380 Comments


I don't like this guy much but his Massive Attack cover is fucking amazing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjT86g9gTKk

Just see yourself.

Eclectic
September 18th 2010


3302 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah I guess I get that, I'm just not really sure you need to state that it's untrue but idk, it's a good review regardless, although being the nit-picker that I am, there is an "its" in the first paragraph that should be an "it's", I'll let you find it ;-).

Yeah, I see where you're coming from. Haha, thanks for the pickup.

i don't like this guy at all, but good review man.

Thanks, why don't you like him?

AtavanHalen
September 18th 2010


17927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Seriously one of the best shows I've been to all year. This guy is amazing.



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