Plastiscines: LP1

The French foursome tread familiar ground, yet do so with verve on one of the year's more winsome debuts.



Label: Caroline
US Release Date: 2007-09-18
UK Release Date: Available as import
France release date: 2007-02-12

It's not exactly fair to compare the debut album by Parisienne band Plastiscines to Elastica's great 1995 debut, but listening to the snappy, direct, and deceivingly eclectic LP1, you can hear that same intent, to shake modern rock music to its core by returning to the tuneful ferocity of late-'70s post punk. Although the music is nowhere near as hard-hitting and tends to lean towards the melodramatic and playful (as opposed to Elastica's oft-brilliant sardonicism), the four young ladies make up for their lack of musical chops and instrumental wit by keeping things simple, and the end result is a record that exudes the kind of verve and confidence, not to mention an uncanny knack for genuine pop hooks, that few bands of their generation are capable of. And although half of the band's material is sung in French, it hardly matters what language they're singing in, the music is that contagious.

France has never garnered much worldwide attention when it comes to guitar-based rock, but that's been changing as of late. Metal exports Gojira are one of the most buzzed-about bands in the scene, and the shoegaze-like strains of Alcest's gorgeous Souvenirs d'un Autre Monde evoke Slowdive and Ride's finest work. Especially noteworthy, though, is the number of young pop rock acts that the 2006 Paris Calling compilation turned indie scenesters on to, from the Strokes-inspired garage rock of Les Shades, to the clever power pop of Brooklyn, to the primal ferocity of Second Sex, to the tetchy energy of the Parisians. Plastiscines also contributed a pair of tracks to the collection, and are clearly the most appealing band of the lot, not to mention the one with the most potential, and we hear that throughout LP1, which wastes no time whatsoever, nearly every song hovering around the two minute mark, save for one track that clocks in at a comparatively epic 2:51.

The entire album is encapsulated perfectly in the single "Loser", as the sprightly opening riff, vocal melody, and song length all bear a strong resemblance to the Buzzcocks, delivering the goods in 138 seconds. Sung entirely in French save for the title refrain, it's nowhere near the vicious kiss-off that Elastica's "Stutter" was, but its purpose is similar, as singer/guitarist Katty Besnard, in her impassioned, seductively husky voice, expresses her dislike for her antagonist in pointed fashion, capping off each chorus with the warning, "Prends garde à toi!". Equally aggressive are "Tu as Tout Prévu" and "La Règle du Jeu", the buzzsaw guitars of Besnard and Marine Neuilly anchored by the simple yet solid rhythm section of bassist Louise Basilien and drummer Zazie Tavitian. Two of the album's most ingenious moments, "Pop In, Pop Out!" and the Farfisa-enhanced "(Zazie Fait de La) Bicyclette", channel the buoyant French pop of the mid-1960s very impressively, adding playful respites from the more hard-edged fare.

If there's one weakness on the album, it's that Besnard doesn't stick to singing in French. It's clear she sounds more comfortable singing in her native language, and French actually does suit Plastiscines' style very well. Still, when we hear her absolutely beguiling mispronunciations ("I've been sitting in your car for how-ers", she sings on "Mister Driver"), all is forgiven, and it doesn't hurt that the music is so strong. "Shake (Twist Around the Fire)" and the adrenalin-fueled "Lost in Translation" continue that Buzzcocks vibe, while "Rake" and the ham-fisted "Human Rights" revisit the late-'70s punk sounds of the Stiff Records roster. The best of the Anglocentric songs is the semi-ballad "No Way", which, with its midtempo groove and vibrato guitar, exudes the kind of nocturnal feel the Raveonettes do so well, the rest of band backing up Besnard in classic girl group style. The Plastiscines pop in and pop out in the blink of an eye, and 26 minutes later, we don't know what hit us. Smitten, our only option is to press play one more time, and hope like hell it won't be long until their next album.





Man Alive! Is a Continued Display of the Grimy-Yet-Refined Magnetism of King Krule

Following The OOZ and its accolades, King Krule crafts a similarly hazy gem with Man Alive! that digs into his distinct aesthetic rather than forges new ground.


The Kinks and Their Bad-Mannered English Decency

Mark Doyles biography of the Kinks might complement a seminar in British culture. Its tone and research prove its intent to articulate social critique through music for the masses.


ONO Confronts American Racial Oppression with the Incendiary 'Red Summer'

Decades after their initial formation, legendary experimentalists ONO have made an album that's topical, vital, uncomfortable, and cathartic. Red Summer is an essential documentation of the ugliness and oppression of the United States.


Silent Women Filmmakers No Longer So Silent: Alice Guy Blaché and Julia Crawford Ivers

The works of silent filmmakers Alice Guy Blaché and Julia Crawford Ivers were at risk of being forever lost. Kino Lorber offers their works on Blu-Ray. Three cheers for film historians and film restoration.


Rush's 'Permanent Waves' Endures with Faultless Commercial Complexity

Forty years later, Rush's ability to strike a nearly perfect balance between mainstream invitingness and exclusory complexity is even more evident and remarkable. The progressive rock classic, Permanent Waves, is celebrating its 40th anniversary.


Drum Machines? Samples? Brendan Benson Gets Contemporary with 'Dear Life'

Powerpop overlord and part-time Raconteur, Brendan Benson, grafts hip-hop beats to guitar pop on his seventh solo album, Dear Life.


'Sell You Everything' Brings to Light Buzzcocks '1991 Demo LP' That Passed Under-the-Radar

Cherry Red Records' new box-set issued in memory of Pete Shelley gathers together the entire post-reunion output of the legendary Buzzcocks. Across the next week, PopMatters explores the set album-by-album. First up is The 1991 Demo LP.


10 Key Tracks From the British Synthpop Boom of 1980

It's 40 years since the first explosion of electronic songs revitalized the UK charts with futuristic subject matter, DIY aesthetics, and occasionally pompous lyrics. To celebrate, here's a chronological list of those Moog-infused tracks of 1980 that had the biggest impact.

Reading Pandemics

Poe, Pandemic, and Underlying Conditions

To read Edgar Allan Poe in the time of pandemic, we need to appreciate a very different aspect of his perspective—not that of a mimetic artist but of the political economist.


'Yours, Jean' Is a Perfect Mixture of Tragedy, Repressed Desire, and Poor Impulse Control

Lee Martin's Yours, Jean is a perfectly balanced and heartbreaking mix of true crime narrative and literary fiction.


The 60 Best Albums of 2007

From tech house to Radiohead and Americana to indie and everything in between, the 60 best albums of 2007 included many of the 2000s' best albums.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Solitude Stands in the Window: Thoreau's 'Walden'

Henry David Thoreau's Walden as a 19th century model for 21st century COVID-19 quarantine.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.