Sunday, February 22, 2015

NEW MUSIC: Plurals - "Your Situation"

Confession time: a big, goofy smile lit up my face the moment I first plunked the needle down on the beautifully marbled yellow vinyl album that arrived in the Ruttville mailbox a couple of weeks ago. Your Situation, the debut album from Plurals, immediately takes me back to a very happy musical place. From the first jackhammer guitar chords through the final washes against the side two inner groove, Plurals bring back everything that made New Wave (back in the days when it was a wave) so exciting and, yes, fun.  Their thoroughly modern takes on that nostalgic noise have made them a favorite of mine since catching them opening for Shonen Knife a while back, and later supporting Peelander-Z. I raved here about their first recorded output, the digital EP Laced With Boniva, and it should be no big surprise that I'm about to rave again.

Your Situation reprises the four tracks from the EP, adding five more shots of their insanely clever and insidiously catchy sound.  Over the course of nine tracks, the band (Michael Bowen on guitar and vocals, Elena Fox on bass, keyboardist Rachel Anne Warren, guitarist Jim Glass and Sean Pumphrey on drums) covers a whole lot of ground.  The opener, "Sicker/Better," starts off sounding like someone sped up Devo's "Uncontrollable Urge" until Fox and Warren bubble up through the mix with a series of tra-la-las that would make The Banana Splits proud.  As a counterpoint to Bowen's angular lead vocals, they evoke expected comparison to The B-52's.  The girls play the distant, alienated, emotionless New Wave backup singers role to even better effect on the phenomenal "Rose Garden," a bubblegummy romp that may be my favorite thing I've heard them do.

Sandwiched between those cuts is the hysterical "Look At the Nerds," a nearly operatic celebration of geekdom that serves as a showcase for Warren to channel both Nina Hagen and Klaus Nomi simultaneously (and yes, I used that line when describing the song as they played it live, but it is one of my favorite comparisons I've ever made and, if you listen, pretty damn accurate.)  Also worthy of note among the new cuts is "World Star," a knowing a jab at the infamous online site that collects cellphone videos of street violence and presents them as entertainment. The punchline, no pun intended, is perfect: "The hits keep coming..."

As mentioned before, if you missed out on Laced With Boniva, all four cuts from that digital EP are here as well: the funky herky-jerky "Manic Depressor," the almost Pixie-ish "I Am The Lions," the slightly retitled "On The Telephone (Clap Clap)," and the simply excellent "Mental Illness (Sooner Or Later)," wherein The English Beat is paraphrased to wonderful effect.

Yeah, the record put a grin on my face, because the fun these five folks have making this music comes through viscerally, both in their live performance and in their recorded work.  This is a band to keep an eye on, kids.  I get the feeling we've only scratched the surface of what they are capable of. You can pick up Your Situation on vinyl or as a digital download at the band's website, You can stream the whole record there, too, if that's your thing.  Me, I'm old school: colored vinyl and lots of inserts can't be beat!

I shared "Mental Illness (Sooner Or Later)" with you back on this Now Hear This round up; here are two standouts from the newer stuff, "Sicker/Better" and  "Rose Garden."  Enjoy, and then go pick up the whole album and help support the band!


Rose Garden