Hmm, City Under Seige might not have been the best title for this one, as on far too many of these tracks I feel under siege and am compelled to skip ahead, or even worse for Plexorjet, I go scrambling to my stack of CDs next to the stereo in search for the most melodic thing I can find. But perhaps that’s Plexorjet’s point, to be the überindie band, the band that is so indie that they can’t even bring themselves to spell siege properly, though in Plexorjet’s case, it is that überindie desire that makes me so vigorously object, as this Atlanta three-piece clearly has the ability to write and perform songs which are enjoyable from start to finish.
Call it the indie curse, the overwhelming need to prove to all those around that you are “indier than thou”. This was a disease that plagued my entire college campus and has Plexorjet within its grasp as well—the need to “out-Polvo” the earliest, grimiest Polvo records is an impulse that I never have (or today’s canon to “out-At the Drive-in” that horrible bunch), nor admittedly will I ever, understand. So, perhaps I am too biased to write about Plexorjet’s City Under Seige, but I would argue the fact that I enjoy some of these songs, making me despise the dreck here all the more, presents me as an ideal candidate to honestly evaluate City Under Seige. It all begins with the Weezer-derivative “Foot Bag” (I should have mentioned my college also did feature a Weezer-emulation ailment as well); a moogy, squeaky 50-second introduction to . . . The terribly frustrating “Austin City Limits,” which spends too much time on its disposable verses, before moving into an instrumental, hooky vocal-less chorus which actually utilizes its moog and could have provided the foundation for an excellent track.
There’s no point in getting my hopes up too high, however, as “I Love the City” is a rather dirgey but vanilla run through (though with much worse vocals) of what the southern driving rock of Polvo and their Merge counterparts are supposed to sound like. “Yoemens Gate” takes the guitar sound from the previous track but cuts out a smarter, more melodic setting. The guitars effectively bridge from phase to phase with Gill Durant’s drumming as a subtle guide and Plexorjet use the vocals are a tool for success rather than a vice to be overcome. In short, an excellent track, the kind of single that would make me buy the LP after one listen.
Precisely, the reason why “Action Figure” would so infuriate me upon purchase of that album. Grating, driving, raw, yet entirely unemotional—like a bastardized American-take on Joy Division. “Gay Steakhouse” sounds much more improvised, a dirty jam which could find a home somewhere in the recesses of the Touch & Go family, but not in my record collection. Yet, then Plexorjet recover most gainfully with “The Great Escape”. By this point in the album, there is a great desire to start skipping tracks (more so when the track shares a name with a mediocre Blur LP), but “The Great Escape” is melodic, the piano remains poignant throughout, and this astonishing song ends all too quickly whereas the bulk of the songs, and the album itself, creak on far too long.