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Plates of Cake

Plates of Cake

(All Hands Electric; US: 26 Oct 2010; UK: Import)

On their debut record for the quietly consistent All Hands Electric label, Plates of Cake stake their claim in the guitar-pop arena. The melodies are tight and swelling with a quiet tension, the guitars shimmer and quake and the rhythm section subtly pushes it all along. The band also shows an impressive range, from the bright, nearly-twee pop of “Living Winter” to the propulsive rock of “Emil the Soldier” to the deathly, Cohen-esque waltz of “This Way; Not Some Other Way”. With their breadth of pop styles and their tight execution, the band puts forth an admirable set on this record. How deep you delve into this short album, however, depends on how you take vocalist Jonathan Byerley. His deep, hushed voice—part smoky growl, part winking croon—can sometimes feel a little too planned-out, a little too knowing, so that he doesn’t seem fully immersed in the song. He does snap out of it for the strong chorus on “Emil the Soldier”. As the songs slow and stretch out towards the end of the record his voice wanders, and the further he drifts, the more emotive and less smirking he seems to get. It’s those moments that resonate the most and rise out of an impressively diverse set of songs to stick with you.

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Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.


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