Sound — 7
If there's a band that has the potential to mimic the success of Paramore, it will likely be Tampa, Florida's Automatic Loveletter. The pop/rock band's sound revolves around the powerhouse vocals of Juliet Simms, who in many ways has the ability to take on grittier, more challenging songs than Hayley Williams. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on the audience), Simms primarily sticks with emotional ballads and your general pop fare. There's certainly a mass market for Automatic Loveletter's sound because of its accessibility, but the band's debut full-length record Truth or Dare leaves you wishing they would venture out of their pop comfort zone. With Josh Abraham in the producer's chair, Truth or Dare is sleek in terms of production value. If you're a fan of a pure rock sound, however, it may leave you slightly cold. The standout track is also one of the more intense offerings on the CD. Heart Song not only showcases Simms' fiery wails, the arrangement is also much more dynamic than the other 11 tracks. That one song alone should garner Automatic Loveletter attention and deservedly so. My Goodbye and Butterflies boost the momentum of Truth or Dare, but it's more in a dance/pop/synth-driven aspect than the rawer quality heard in Heart Song. For fans of ballads that build up to a big burst of emotion during the chorus, Automatic Loveletter will deliver in full. Hush, Let It Ride, and Eyes On You will undoubtedly be fodder for the Billboard Charts, and it's Simms' ability to convey heartfelt passion that sells each one. Truth or Dare is a bit ballad-heavy, but it's also an album that is being marketed to a specific audience. The talent within the band can be appreciated by anyone, but it's most likely a younger crowd (think Twilight fans) that will embrace Automatic Loveletter's sound.
Lyrics — 7
Not every ballad (or upbeat track for that matter) revolves around love/heartache, but the album does have its fair share of emotional themes. The tracks Fade Away and Story Of My Life deal with finding one's purpose and reflecting on the past's imperfections, with the latter's verses standing out as some of the most original and descriptive on the album. With the large helping of love ballads on Truth or Dare, however, Automatic Loveletter has chosen an apt title for its band's name.
Overall Impression — 7
Juliet Simms is already becoming a music veteran in her own right, having recorded a song with All Time Low and covering Coldplay's Fix You with Secondhand Serenade. It's completely understandable why she was sought out for these collaborations after hearing Truth or Dare, as she could very well become one of the top female vocalists on the pop/rock scene. For the pop genre, the tracks on Truth or Dare will likely be embraced, but in the end the momentum is halted by a saturation of ballads.