Although released to generally poor reviews at the time (with the aforementioned synthesized drums and bass being the biggest point of contention), Automatic contains their most successful single up to that point, "Head On" (later covered by the Pixies). Critical and fan reception has improved with the passage of time. Pitchfork Media wrote in 2006: "Conventional wisdom wrongly calls (Automatic) the dud," of the JAMC's discography, but that in hindsight the album "feels like a career peak" and has been a fan favourite.
The last two tracks, "Drop" and "Sunray", were initially only available on the CD release, and not the vinyl LP and cassette releases. Later re-issues on cassette and CD feature all 12 tracks.