Seeing Stars (Mojo Records)
By: Alex Steininger
American boys playing Brit-pop has been done before, but Plastiscene does it with emphasis on power, marking their music with an American essence that slyly hides behind the Brit-pop emphasis they put on everything. Equal parts Radiohead, Beatles, Smashing Pumpkins, and Weezer influenced, these guys create music that is far out there, but within reach.
Slowly building you up for some tasty hooks, "Sundial" begins quick faint before the guitar screams into the picture and instantly changes the pace of the song. With the backing of the bass and drums, the guitar is able to energize the scene and turn the heat up. The vocals have that charming British touch to them, which sometimes is misunderstood for snootiness, while also packing a sly bite. Wrestling between the sharp hooks and the poetically mysterious lyrics, the band members play tag-team with each other. One minute the drums will pound in your head and get you revved up, and the next minute the guitar will slice into your head with painless ease. Not a fan of Brit-pop myself, these guys take the standard hooks that make so many people crazy, then add flair and energy which help make their sound very universal and listener friendly. "Lemon Yellow" proves track one wasn't a lucky try and that these guys are for real. Adding a bit of a techno-dance feel to the music, through the use of keyboards and melodies that hang off the vocals, the sound opens up while still staying true to the pop nucleus. Sharp and dreamy, this is the perfect song for a dream scene in a movie involving someone who dreams they are so cool, driving around in a fast car and getting the girls, before being rudely awakened from the teacher slapping her ruler on the chalkboard. "Mr. Sheen" starts off with some acoustic guitar work, proving these guys are truly a talented band influenced by the likes of the Beatles, and not just a cheap clone trying to capitalize on a sound that seems to be hot as of late. After forty-five seconds they instantly jump the song back into their usual, lively atmosphere. Getting you bouncing around in glee, they then proceed to drop the tone back to the acoustic setting. Snapping back and forth between this and their power-pop hearts, the song contrasts itself nicely. But the album isn't all glitter and gold, they do kiss the ground on "On Your Own Time." Combining elements of Top-40 dance and Top-40 pop, this song sounds too generic and radio-minded to fit in with the rest of the album. It's not a bad song, per say, it just doesn't flow well with the rest of the album. The hooks aren't as clear-cut as the previous numbers, and the song doesn't have the zest that makes each preceding number such a tooth-rotting experience. "Times Don't Change" seems to fall between the great and the mundane, starting off as a nice acoustic number and slowly blending into a semi-typical number. But even the typical parts of the song still seem to shine, capturing your attention and making you want more. Maybe it's the fact that the first four tracks were such mind-blowers, and then they seemed to cool off a bit, but I keep expecting the charge of cuts like "Sundial" and "Lemon Yellow," yet they come close but never land it. Ending with "Up Or Down," they close off the disc with a number that has life pumping through it, but the peak of their energetic performance has all but passed.
Plastiscene is one of the first Brit-pop bands as of late to really hook me and make me feel what they're doing. This album has bull-dozing hooks that will floor you if you're not careful, as well as a sweet after taste. The only problem is they dizzy you in the beginning and then seem to lighten up, never delivering that one powerful blow that will take you off the ropes and make you eat canvas. I'll give this disc a B+.
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