Have a listen to 'Be the Change'
Plastic Barricades – Mechanics of Life
Release Date: 14th September 2017
I am fascinated with understanding music that I don’t ‘get’. Zappa and Beefheart being two of the top contenders. So when I first listened to the Mechanics of Life album, I knew this was going to be an uphill struggle. As it turns out, getting into the right frame of mind for this album was as simple as smashing through an entire triple chocolate trifle and three cans of Heineken (breakfast of champions). With that I was off to the races and even an opening track like ‘Where Goldfish Grow’, which is as bizarre as it sounds was no match for my sugar and booze fuelled brain.
There is an odd juxtaposition that happens with this album in which there is not so much of the experimental sound, which you would expect. The music itself is straight up indie rock. It is this commonplace sound that first threw up the confusion for me. I was expecting something rather mainstream and boring and yet the intensely odd lyrics that went along with it hauled me back from the idea that this would be an entirely beige experience.
There is an issue I have always had with song writing, when you figure out what you want to say you also have to phrase it in a way that makes it ‘listener friendly’, or the song wont work. I wish I had heard this album a few years ago, I may have found the process a great deal easier. Here there doesn’t seem to be any thought of this kind. Instead the vocals are delivered in a style befitting the music but the ideas expressed are clearly those that are held by the band, without being edited for radio friendly airplay. ‘Singularity 2045’ and ‘Our Favourite Delusions’ exhibit this quite well with complex lyrics over really enjoyable music and vocal delivery.
I think that this is one of the most interesting elements of this album, you are drawn in slowly. The tracks themselves are very capable of drifting into the background of a scene, however every so often you would catch the odd lyric on the musty, sex laden house party air and be drawn closer to the speakers as a result. Hopefully you will have deftly sidestepped the cringy fresher who was playing the music and wants to perform a free lecture of the “deeper meaning of these songs”. I have no issue with these people, they will grow out of it eventually, but some people actually do think this is the way to get laid. I will pray that the rock gods have mercy on their souls.
‘Be The Change’ is a more acoustic based track, still following the lyrical template of the preceding tracks, but the sound is reminiscent of The Beatles at their most interesting. The anti capitalist message of the track would fit right in alongside those released by John Lennon on that album where we were all subjected to him and Yoko Ono naked on the cover.
‘Needles in haystacks’ makes me think it would be the perfect accompanying track to a South Park dream sequence; Someone flying along on a mythical creature through an idyllic landscape filled with metaphors and representations of the current state of society before waking up drooling on the carpet. The guitar provides a flighty atmosphere slightly out of kilter for the album, which only serves to make it stand out even further.
By the time I have made my way to ‘Half of your soul’ I am hoping that the band are planning to release a video accompaniment to the album that follows in the footsteps of the Pink Floyd videos of the past. This treatment is certainly required and I think some of you more talented people should get on this immediately. I love the guitar solo on this track and I can imagine it sung with Gilmour’s voice, for that reason alone it’s worth repeated listens.
‘Masterminds’ is the final track on the album, and to my mind a strange choice for the position. There is something uplifting about the track and it feels more like something that should be in the middle of the running order, introducing the second half of the album rather than ending it. On the other hand I wonder how much this had to do with the need to give prominence to this song.
There is a feeling that this was a well-liked track by the band and that is the reason for it being used to book end the album. The music is light, much like ‘Needles in Haystacks’, possibly too close. However, the vocal performance is stunning and delivered in a way that does leave me wanting to hear more from this band. So to that end it has achieved its purpose. I am looking forward to hearing more, preferably with some kind of psychedelic video accompaniment. There is no need to dip your toes into strangeness, jump in and swim around, what is the worst that can happen?
For fans of: The Sirens Call, Quad Star
For more Plastic Barricades