The Planet The
Physical Angel
/54° 40" or fight!; 2004/


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The Planet The were thiiiis close to ending up in the Snacks section of Only Angels Have Wings. The moment I noticed that Physical Angel may be a dance/math rock hybrid (a la Brainiac) I breathed a quick sigh of relief. I thought: there’s one less review I’ll have to crank out. This type of music can get terribly redundant, very fast. Brainiac brought the spaz so well that few bands since have been a worthwhile return to the genre (Polysics aside). Today, if you wanna get your arty freak-dance out, Les George Leningrad is all you need. However, by the end of Physical Angel a couple of head turners had passed, so I let out a small curse and receded to write a whole review. I also felt a little obligated considering I tossed one of 54°40' or Fight!’s other bands into the Snacks bin, This Bright Apocalypse. The label also hasn’t received much attention since 31 Knots’ stunning prog rock hit It Was High Time to Escape, so for all these reasons, you are now reading this review.

A lot of small webzines have commented on the concise and confusing songs on Physical Angel, praising them for their ability to take the listener by storm and then disappear before one can understand what has just happened. Superfluous and lazy writing indeed. Not to assume a more professional stance myself, I’ll only go so far as to say that this is not groundbreaking stuff. In fact, half of the songs on this 27 minute disc are almost generic. In any other case it would be against this site’s principles to write a review based on standards like that but like I mentioned before, there are couple of golden nuggets to be sifted out.

“Physical Angel” opens the album OK enough, resembling a stripped down version of anything from Hissing Prigs in Static Couture. “Man Called Wife” is more of the same, and “Toledo Vader” makes you finally come to terms with the fact that The Planet The have a Brainiac fetish, including the later bands knack for injecting various oddities into songs. After the surprisingly-better-than-it-first-sounded “Uno Violence” comes the bands best song. “Arty Movie” is nice and mellow, cool enough in its cheap retro minimalism to groove to while containing such sexy lyrics as “I see no difference between your hand and your mouth.” Really? C’mon now.

“Side Pipe” would have been better if it were longer and featured more of the chant-like lyrics. “High School Hands” is plain disabled, while “Marc Artery” features a man singing a lovely middle eastern melody, but again things end too quickly. The album concludes unexpectedly with an organ straight out of Phantom of the Opera, leaving you wondering just what might have happened had the band stuck to the interesting bits in each of their songs just a little longer. Unfortunately, the answer is that Physical Angel would have been a much better album.

- Andrew Iliadis

/jan 15th 2005/