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Super Unison - "Auto" | Album Review

By Quentin Gibeau (@Gibonobo)
A frustrating thing about art and rock & roll is the patriarchal stranglehold on admiration. It’s a ritual as old as dirt; rock dudes discount the ferocity of female counterparts no matter how “well meaning” the contextualization of the commentary, not to mention the trite sexualization of any kind of aggression that comes forth. On Super Unison’s new album Auto, the Bay Area trio can shame all the dumb bros in your life to silence. Auto is goddamn masterpiece as a full-length outing.
The album is unrelenting. Built of choice cuts and gems, every song is thought out and crafted, hammered together with the same tools and tones as Motorhead, At The Drive In, and Rites of Spring alongside flashes of Dischord and a little riotgrrl. Lead by the charismatic battle howl of Meghan O'Neil Pennie, the album is a progressive re-contextualization of the some of the signature sounds of post punk and screamo. Extremely heavy without losing momentum, the album honors its roots and its context; Pennie hails from Bay Area heroes Punch, drummer Justin Renninger did time in Snowing, and Kevin DeFranco does some serious heavy-lifting guitar work.
This shows on tracks like “Time & Distance,” an angular sleeper hit right out of Acrobatic Tenement-era At The Drive In. It has the feeling of a classic. The song is tender and brutal, heartfelt and breakneck at the same time. The lovelorn banger is bittersweet and motivational, fitting like a lived-in pair of all black chucks stained in sweat, stiffly cradling you in your memories of heartbreak with a Rodriguez-Lopez style hook that satisfies any screamo appreciator, secret or proud.
The oscillation between tenderness, heavy groove, and cathartic self-actualization is woven throughout Auto. Many of the songs have the ingredients of mosh-pit spirituals. Tracks like “Muted” and “What Are You Going To Do” create impact with space, rest, and the weight of Pennie’s battle cry. Other songs like “Don’t Look Up,” “Keeper,” and “Losing You,” will pummel you with paint peeling ferocity.
One of my favorite things about Auto is its unashamed sincerity. Especially given the fact that in our current cultural post singularity, irony has broken the fourth wall and stared back. Albums like Auto should be the sound of post rock to come. As our millennial generation ages in the rock world, musicians are sometimes left with the puzzle of taking the art forms we grew up with and figuring out what to do with them. Instead of planting their tongues in their cheeks, on Auto you can hear Super Unison’s heart is in their throats. They have built something familiar, emotional, feminine, and strong.