The Plastic Constellations
Out of nowhere, The Plastic Constellations have single handedly renewed my interest in today's brand of jagged post-punk with Mazatlan. Make no mistake, the term is a generalization that’s thrown around more often than ‘dancepunk’ these days, due to the fact that it can so easily compartmentalize many indie artists. Interpol falls under the same heading but they also sound as much like The Plastic Constellations as Múm does Autechre (read: nothing alike). TPC are more reminiscent of Fugazi and groups like Les Savvy Fav than all those pop-noir 80’s bands. There is no sleek, melancholic veneer to the sound here, only the shouted choruses and strikingly original instrumentation of those bands you used to jump around violently to with a carefree smirk. One thing that is immediately apparent to you when you listen to this record is that you’d love to see these guys live. Mazatlan is chalk full of energetic songs that have more than enough creativity to be intelligent as well. This is the kind of music that reveals every ounce of pretension in bands like Gastr Del Sol (hey, I like them too).
When the first few notes of the record open with the boys performing a choir like scale in unison, then quickly crashing into a flurry of guitar, you know this is going to be special. The pace hardly ever lets up through the albums eleven tracks, minus the occasional verse section, leaving one hitting the repeat button after every listen. We’ve all heard this type of music before but somehow The Plastic Constellations manage to keep you on your toes throughout the whole record. Before they let anything outstay its welcome in a song (big problem #1 with today‘s radio rock), the band changes it up, by either injecting a completely new tempo or tossing in an unexpected lyrical delivery.
One of the other important things about this release is, finally, you can admire an album both by yourself and with those less musically inclined friends of yours who listen to the radio. Sure, they won’t catch the lyrics and anthemic pop chorus of “Davico” or fully appreciate the kick ass guitar interplay of “Evil Groove,” but who cares. At least you can listen to this together in their car rather than being subjected to whatever tripe they listen to nowadays (hint: buy it for them for Christmas). This is music that brings people together rather than appealing only to acquired tastes. Everyone will feel the unfaltering urgent rhythm of “Beats Like You Stole Something;” it’s impossible for this record to divide the common listener from the music connoisseur, Mazatlan is simply too enjoyable.
There is a youthful energy inherent in Mazatlan which I have not had the fortune of coming across for a very long time. TPC take me back to what it was like discovering the records of my youth, like hearing Sister or the Blue Album for the first time, and being completely overwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong, this is not one of those albums, but it’s damn close and TPC’s next very well could be. Having already achieved this level of maturity and ingenuity with only two albums, they are poised to release a third that will catapult them to the top of the indie worlds post-punk heap. Here’s hoping.
- Andrew Iliadis
/dec 15th 2004/