Originally posted on greenmanmusic.biz
I recently reviewed the sister release of this EP, Unplugged, stating I felt the band were holding something back and being stifled by the confines of an acoustic recording, summing up with “I can’t help wishing that the electric EP had come first, so that this stood up as an interesting experiment, a band trying new things and giving their songs a fresh life and opening them to new audiences. As the songs are there, and the back catalogue of the musicians is great, I really look forward to being able to hear the next instalment, and cranking it up to 11 as this band are meant to be heard.” And I am very pleased to be vindicated! Plastic Culture Human Vulture is what I hoped it would be.
The three-piece are much the better for being unleashed with amplifiers turned up. The energy of the music is much more apparent. These songs, several of which are on both EP’s have a lot more freedom, and are much more suited to the grungy sound and style employed by the band. Guitar sounds are deep and really fuzzed up, the bass rumbles along like an HGV on a motorway and the drums sound like field guns in the near distance. There are plenty of quiet / noisy dynamics through the EP that give each song a strange fluidity and rhythm, offering plenty of moments of surprise. And coupled with the psychedelic undercurrents to a lot of the rhythms and structures you are really floated away as a listener. It is great to hear a band with a very incendiary sound still have the ability within their writing and playing to be able to not so much drag you along as encourage you to drift to wherever they want you to go. And to be fair that feels like a nice warm and snug place to be.
However, as with the music lyrically there is a contrast at work, as subjectively the songs have a bit of bite to them and some recurring themes of progress and betterment. Breathe For Free is a searing commentary on throw away culture and greed, the things modern culture seems to get hung-up on and the habitual over-processing of everything from music to food. It is a call to arms encouraging us to “live, love and breathe for free”. Chains look at the restraints we impose on ourselves socially and in relationships. Again it offers advice about letting go, freeing yourself and being individual. Me and Myself examines the damaging effect of navel-gazing and self-over-analysis. In contrast single In Sanity is a more positive song about finding inspiration within life’s madness.
Whilst there is a lot of vintage style and substance about these songs they also have a real contemporary edge to them, principally through the vocal styling’s of lead vocalist Mari and her sibling Hettie. Mari’s singing can have some real guts to it that suits the music perfectly but more interestingly when the voices harmonise (and being sisters this happens with real synchronicity and beauty) they add fragility to the otherwise substantial music. Imagine First Aid Kit singing over Mudhoney and you get the gist. As I had suspected from the songs on Unplugged, fully amped up the band really hit their stride producing a fantastic slab of Neolithic yet contemporary alternative Rock, heavy enough to knock down buildings but delivered with a surprising twist of ethereal beauty. In short, I loved it and will now have to listen to the acoustic songs with fresh ears.