Plastic Mermaids
Suddenly Everyone Explodes


3.9
excellent

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
May 26th, 2019 | 23 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Sun-soaked psychedelia that inspires some lofty comparisons.

The first thing I thought when I heard Plastic Mermaids’ debut Suddenly Everyone Explodes was “The Flaming Lips meet MGMT.” The Isle of Wight psychedelic five-piece undoubtedly demonstrates traits of both famous outfits – from the melodic swagger and immediacy of the simmering psych-pop masterpiece ‘1996’ to more subtle and nuanced cuts of atmospheric rock, like ‘Floating in a Vacuum.’ The band, who built their own analogue studio and self-produced this record, seem destined to receive that torch – one that only a band as talented and fun as Plastic Mermaids could successfully wield while facing the bright lights of the mainstream head-on.

I’m quick to assume that’s where the band is headed, not because I believe it to be their end-game, but because that’s where music this instantly loveable and engaging typically arrives. Lead vocalist Douglas Richards has a few different modes, which range from quirky and elf-like (’10,000 Violins Playing Inside an Otherwise Empty Head’) to convincingly sincere and down-to-earth (‘Milk’). The band backs him to the farthest edges of his imagination, whether it’s the warm and straightforward acoustic guitars of ‘I Still Like Kelis’ or the cold, robotic detachment of ‘Luliuli.’ Plastic Mermaids seem capable of executing any style, a trait that lends their inherent boundaries a sense of elasticity; nothing feels off-limits and the only surprise in their music would be, well, to actually be surprised. Take the full-stop halfway through ‘1996’ for example – it’s not often that you hear a full-throttle, forward momentum indie-pop banger cease entirely mid-track and totally shift focus. This is a band that’s not afraid to try something like that, because the risk of alienating their very early fandom is outweighed by the benefit of establishing their own vision, which they do quite successfully here.

The biggest challenge in appreciating Suddenly Everyone Explodes is finding a balance between all the various styles on display. It was a bit difficult for me to adjust on-the-fly between crowd-pleasers like ‘1996’, or the swelling chorus and sweeping poignancy of ‘Yoyo’, and tracks that are far more subdued in nature. The latter make up the vast majority of this debut LP, so while first impressions are marked by clear, accessible highlights, repeated listens require a bit more time to draw out the album’s best qualities. For example, it wasn’t until the fifth or sixth time around that I realized just how heartbreaking the lyrics to ‘Milk’ actually are – a tale of depression and unrequited love: “How long til you see the sky’s not falling on you…you say the storm rages on behind your eyelids / I'm trying not to tell you what I've felt, I could have sworn I saw almost every colour as the light tracks through raindrops in your hair.” Another thing that took some time to unravel are what I’ll call onion melodies – these songs that seemed unremarkable upon initial inspection but became absolute earworms after a few repetitions of peeling away the layers: tracks like ‘Floating in a Vacuum’, ‘10,000 Violins’, and ‘Milk’, all of which underwhelm at first but have undeniable character that eventually ends up outweighing the more immediate singles. There’s plenty of depth to this album; another sign that Plastic Mermaids transcend your average psych/indie/synth outfit.

Suddenly Everyone Explodes isn’t an album without flaws – namely the uninspiring duo of ‘Ooh’ and ‘Taxonomy’ which bloats and drags out the record’s latter portion – but it’s one that shows exceptional promise for one of the odder and more individualistic bands out there right now. It’s a record with an array of styles in its arsenal, and one would imagine that Plastic Mermaids will continue to hone in on the approaches that worked best for them here. Even if they’re not quite as fun as MGMT yet – or as intriguingly mesmerizing as The Flaming Lips at their peak – even inspiring such comparisons should be telling about where this new band already stands. The future’s bright for this psychedelic quintet, and their present blend of accessibility and layered detail is quite intoxicating.




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Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
May 26th 2019


31194 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

My appreciation trajectory with this album: "this is amazing" -> "this is forgettable" -> "nope, right the first time"

Curious what the vast Sput community will think of this.

Digging: Bad Books - III

TwigTW
May 26th 2019


3771 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is a great first album, but it has problems. It starts out better than it finishes. Still, it put them on my 'bands to watch' list. It will be interesting to see where they go from here.

Digging: Kishi Bashi - Omoiyari

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 26th 2019


31194 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Agreed it has its pitfalls. I'm still enjoying the hell out of it. For a moment I expected all the songs to be like 1996 (like Oracular Spectacular pt.2) but then once it sunk in that it's more of a Congratulations, I began to really appreciate the subtle nuances. I'm excited for the future too. Seems like they have a couple different ways to evolve.

Trundle
May 26th 2019


2615 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

diggin this from what i've heard, will have to come back to it.

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 26th 2019


31194 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah it's kind of a weird grower, or at least it was for me. It made an immediate impact, then faded, then came back even stronger. I don't think the track list does the album any favors with a lot of the lower energy songs coming early, but there's definitely quality scattered about this album. I'm actually at a point where I like every song except for a couple.

beefshoes
May 27th 2019


7353 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Looking forward to listening to this later— it sounds promising.

Digging: Sunn O))) - Life Metal

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 27th 2019


31194 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Let me know what you think! I don't listen to a whole lot of psychedelic pop/rock so my comparisons might be pretty predictable, but I think they're fairly on-point. Interested in seeing if some genre experts can help me fill out that "recommended" section!

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 28th 2019


31194 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I love that 1996 is basically about being in love with a robot.

Some real brilliant standouts - "1996" and "Yoyo" especially. Might have to bump my score up for this yet again.

Here's my current tbt, excluding short/intro tracks:

01. Glow - n/a

02. 1996 - 5/5

03. Floating in a Vacuum - 4/5

04. 10,000 Violins Playing Inside an Otherwise Empty Head - 4/5

05. Milk - 4/5

06. Yoyo - 5/5

07. I Still Like Kelis - 4.5/5

08. Unhappy Tamagotchi - n/a

09. Throwing Stones at the Moon - 2.5/5

10. Aquarium Acid Trip - n/a

11. Ooh - 2.5/5

12. Taxonomy - 2.5/5

13. Luliuli - 4/5

Terulian
May 28th 2019


4 Comments


Love the music, HATE the voice.

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 28th 2019


31194 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I enjoy the vocals lol. Perfect for this kind of spacey/synthy psych-pop and not all that different from mgmt or flaming lips if you ask me.

Trundle
May 29th 2019


2615 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

at times the vocals definitely feel a little grating, but on other tracks i think they fit in perfectly

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 29th 2019


31194 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I think they sound pretty normal from what I've experienced in this genre. Lots of psych-pop vocalists seem to have that chirpy quality lol. I actually think this guy is pretty good compared to some others I've heard.

beefshoes
May 30th 2019


7353 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm loving this so far, and I think that the vocals fit perfectly.

BenThatsMyJamin
May 31st 2019


2523 Comments


Wow 1996 is one of the best songs I've heard this year

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 31st 2019


31194 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice. Glad to see this catching on. It really only has one bad rating so far affecting the average otherwise it's been consistently well- received (among a small sample size granted).

Sinternet
May 31st 2019


19678 Comments


pretty awful band name

SowingSeason
Moderator
May 31st 2019


31194 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Granted lol

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
June 6th 2019


24789 Comments


you had me at acid
oh wait

SowingSeason
Moderator
June 6th 2019


31194 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Haha



You hear this yet Con?

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
June 6th 2019


24789 Comments


1996 is the year i was born and it's a cool jam. not sure the vox are my thing tho but it def gives off hardcore FLIPS vibes



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