Article by Chuck Trash
Since around 2012, there have been a handful of punk bands who have successfully reached listeners beyond punk’s cult following, propelling the scene into the cultural limelight once again. Here in Chicago we are lucky to provide a home to many of these bands.
Just off the heels of their first self-titled LP, Plastic is developing into a notably versatile ensemble. While it would be easy to pigeonhole the band in with other punk outfits across the nation, Plastic executes synth-punk even better than many of the bands that pioneered the sub-genre. The trio is comprised of Blake (bass/vocals), Macklin (Drums/vocals) & Ariel (Synth). Currently, they take influence from synth-heavy and industrial bands from the 70’s adding in touches from the ominous, harsh noise scene coupling that with the fast-paced head bang of punk rock.
Normally, bands without guitar are quickly criticized, despite rock n’ roll sub-genres. At times across this record, it can be difficult to figure out what instrument is driving the band. Ariel has mastered the dark tone of their synthesizer, likely the most adaptable instrument in the band. Something gloomy drives every measure backed by the synth, creating a defining sound for the entire album. The vocals, which are mixed better than any other punk album in recent memory, often echo the synth in a cloud of malcontent. Please don’t be misled, though brooding at times this band is angry on every track, even in the way Macklin beats his snare. Every note is charged with frenetic energy.
The stand out track on this record is likely “A Good Laugh”. Starting off with just a triplet on the snare, the song slowly builds into an impeccably structured punk rock ballad. The vocals don’t kick in on the track until well after one minute, and the song is essentially about being pissed off and being laughed at. Like many great punk songs before it, “A Good Laugh” is full of angst and uncomfortable memories, with a chorus of maniacal laughter as a kicker. The most unexpected track on the album is the instrumental noise track lasting just over a minute and a half. “A Call for Help” is both ambient and calming, even with the spooky synth tones pushing the track into a kind of ambience. This short composition falls right in the middle of the album and feels like the perfect intermission.
With a sound somewhere in between the Rezidents, early Cabaret Voltaire & DEVO, the Plastic (LP) sounds as though it came almost from the late 70’s. Though the sound is classic there are many song components that sound unlike any of their punk predecessor.