Mark Carpowich 1 p.m., Feb. 27
Hometown CD Review 5-26-05
Album name: Plastic Explosive (self-titled) (2004)
Skewed melodic sensibility puts Plastic Explosive's full-length debut a cut above the rest.
With vintage riffs and infectious beats twisted into melody lines that are reminiscent of the Smiths' ethereal meanderings, the foursome's sound wavers between pop and rock. Opening with a stinging rebuke of the U.S. political system, frontman Ray Argyle soon abandons his stream-of-consciousness soapbox utterances for more streamlined wordplay, with lines like "You'll fall in line if you know what's good for you." The words are inspired without being too ambiguous as Argyle's throaty inflections strive for intensity.
The album never repeats itself. The fusion of pop melodies and chaotic vocals propelled by intricate guitar riffs showcase how well the band blends elements of pop and psychedelic rock. Ryan Flach on drums draws upon garage rock to create a driving sound -- heavy, with a nu-metal feel -- and guitarist Brandon Burlington follows suit with the standard three chords.
In "Leave Me Out," Argyle sings, "We'll just wait till we're drunk enough, our excuses ready-made, and we'll make our confessions the acceptable way." While the sardonic lyricism undercuts the flimsy pop residue that permeates most of the chorus, the song doesn't capture the dynamism the band is capable of. Cuts such as "The Plague" and "We're Not in Jail" fall victim to the same fate, lost in a mix of talent that is cluttered by the acoustic strains of melodic pop trying to sound heavy.
Occasionally, the songs seem choppy, as the instrumental focus is on being loud. The disc falters when Plastic Explosive takes on "Can't Wait" and "Fault" with little regard paid to rhythm or structure; on both songs, the band exploits the maximum amount of notes and beats. Still, the debut is legitimate in a genre stigmatized by redundancy.