Elastica
Elastica


4.0
excellent

Review

by Bryan Lee Madden USER (27 Reviews)
June 23rd, 2009 | 9 replies


Release Date: 1995 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An unrelenting post, post-punk attack, Elastica delivers - With power chords and a sneer.

Fourteen years after it's release, Elastica's self-titled debut is slipping through the cracks of music history. Copies of this near-forgotten album can likely be found collecting dust on a Gen-Xer's CD shelf or for sale (cheap and used) at an independent record store. Take a look at some online music marketplaces and you'll see the CD can be attained for a very small sum. If you're not familiar with Elastica beyond their one big mid-90's radio hit, do yourself a favor and drop the one cent plus shipping it costs to purchase a copy – because, sonically, it's worth a lot more than the price of admission.

With a slew of two and a half minute rockers, Elastica take us back to the nostalgic sounds of the late 70's/early 80's with their self titled debut. Commonly labeled as Britpop or 90's alternative, Elastica's debut is much closer akin to the post-punk sound established well over a decade before it. This collection of songs has a lot more in common with The Buzzcocks than it does with anything Oasis or Blur ever released - And it rocks substantially harder. Comprised of sharp, distorted riffs and a pissy female vocal, this album oozes attitude.

Ringleader and former Suede guitarist, Justine Frischmann runs the show - backed by lead guitarist Donna Mathews, bassist Annie Holland and odd man out Justin Welch on drums. While the sound may not be completely original, it manages to come off as a fresh and welcome diversion from the sea of grunged-out alterna-rock dominating shelf space and airwaves in the mid-90's.

Setting the tone right out of the gate, opening track “Line Up” delivers a sleazy guitar intro, complete with a puking groan between chords, courtesy of drummer Justin Welch. Lyrics like “You can't see the wood for the trees – on your knees” set the controls early for the kind of ride Elastica plan to take us on throughout the remainder of the album.

By the fourth minute, the record reaches it's third track – Elastica's defining single, “Connection”. Performed with a sing-speak delivery, vocalist Justine Frischmann squeezes more attitude into each lyric than most punkers can muster into an entire album. While “Connection” may be the most well-known track in the band's repertoire, there are many more that pack an equal, if not more potent punch. One fine example is the band's debut single from 1993, re-recorded for their album in 1995, “Stutter”, where Justine delivers a verbal assault, leaving little doubt as to who runs the show: “Is there something you lack, when I'm flat on my back - Is there something that I can do for you?” is the question proposed, with a snide delivery. Keeping up with her isn't an easy task - This chick is damn cool, and that fact is a large part of what makes this album work as well as it does.

This release alternates between up-tempo and mid-tempo tracks, all equal in abrasiveness. Rockers like “Annie” and “Smile” can be over-matched by slower, yet more densely expressive tracks like “Hold Me Now” and “S.O.F.T.”, which never quite shift into high gear, yet still have the same capacity to kick you in the arse. A highlight of the album is the note-bending riff on “S.O.F.T.” (Same Old ***ing Thing), which embodies the detached attitude consistent through the entire record.

What holds this album back from being a complete success is its blatant lack of originality. While the record may stand apart from it's mid-90's peers, it strongly resembles the work done by the first generation of post-punk pioneers – So much so that the band had to settle out of court with seminal English punk band, Wire, over stark similarities between Elastica's “Connection” and the song “Three Girl Rhumba” from Wire's 1977 release, Pink Flag, in which the opening guitar riff is lifted almost note for note. Other noticeable similarities lie in the chorus of the album opener “Line Up” and Wire's “I Am The Fly”, off their 1978 release, Chairs Missing. If this weren't enough lifting for one record, Elastica dipped into The Stranglers' bag, replicating the core melody from the title track of 1978's No More Heroes. For some, this is enough to dismiss the credibility of Elastica and their self-titled debut – but it doesn't change the fact that the album, as a whole, is an exciting, adrenaline-rich punch in the face that arguably improves upon the work done by those who inspired it.

If you can look past the album's primary fault of melodic thievery, there is quite a bit to enjoy on this release consisting of sixteen tracks – only one of which crosses into four-minute territory. With the exception of back-to-back tracks “Indian Song” and “Blue” (the only real down-tempo tracks on the album), Elastica's eponymous debut is an all-out assault on the listener, which deserves a listen and then significant replay. This album bites you hard and doesn't ever seem to get stale when you come back for more.

Standout Tracks: Lineup, Car Song, Hold Me Now, S.O.F.T., Stutter.



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3.7
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Comments:Add a Comment 
RobotFrank
June 23rd 2009


344 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

My second review..

ReturnToRock
June 23rd 2009


3446 Comments


GravyCannon should read this review.

Zettel
February 26th 2010


661 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great review. The first time I heard this album, I disliked it A LOT. I thought of returning it, seriously (as a side note, I actually bought it used, so your reference is likely true). But the very next day after buying it, it clicked me. I have enjoyed it since then, almost eight years now. It is not original, but still a great, fun listen. Prior to this, I only listened to "serious" music. It has aged very well.

RobotFrank
February 26th 2010


344 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

thanks zet. i slept on this for a long time before opening up to it. it's not the greatest record ever, yet it's strong enough that i keep going back to it and it's always enjoyable. her vocal exudes cool and there's some venom in the guitars. it has aged very well, yet its audience has vanished.



this album got too mixed in with what was happening at the time, which caused fans of that sound to overlook it. maybe this is remembered well in the UK but it's completely forgotten here in the US.





Zettel
February 27th 2010


661 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

it has aged very well, yet its audience has vanished



You are probably right. In fact, the copy I bought was an import (it was never released here in Mexico, as far as I know), which means some guy bought it at twice the US price, and sold it at less than a half. It is hard to understand, because the album is really good.



I guess, as it must be the case in a lot of times, that hype or rarity is what compels people into buying one album, and when no one cares, they better get rid of it. As you, I still listen to it, and I thought of writing a review, until I saw yours. They deserved a little place on this site.

xfearbefore
July 13th 2011


1382 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is a really good review of a classic album. I'm shocked so little has been said about this on here, I guess it really is being unfairly forgotten as time goes on.



Whole album rules.

random
October 29th 2011


2556 Comments


Stutter is completely for the win.

Digging: No Trigger - Canyoneer

jefflebowski
November 1st 2011


8444 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

man, this was so hyped back in the day

linguist2011
Contributing Reviewer
August 5th 2012


2348 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Pretty good album, but it does get repetitive towards the end.

Digging: Madder Mortem - Red In Tooth And Claw



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