Glass Beach
plastic death


4.0
excellent

Review

by Dakota West Foss STAFF
January 22nd, 2024 | 89 replies


Release Date: 01/19/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Glass Beach return after a long hiatus to once again throw everything at the wall to see what sticks. This time around, their aim is a bit more intentional. Love it or hate it, the first interesting album of 2024 has arrived.

Y’all see Saltburn yet?

Without getting into the weeds here, Emerald Fennell’s second film has really captivated the imagination of the internet by having a whole lot of everything and, at the very least, a suggestion of a lot of interesting ideas that also manages to find everyone’s feelings -positive or negative- to be kinda right. Everyone understands the film is saying something about sexuality, class, desire, obsession, ownership, and how much of a good song “Time to Pretend” is, but I’ve heard just as many good arguments for why it’s a contemporary masterpiece as I have it choking on the tainted bathwater of its obvious inspirations. For what it’s worth, I liked Saltburn, but that’s almost beside the point -it’s a film that wrings out discourse from whoever sees it. Debating whether or not it’s a worthwhile movie is really something that can only be understood in retrospect: just see it for yourself.

Which is more or less how I feel about Plastic Death, the sophomore album by Glass Beach. The elevator pitch -if such a thing is possible here- is that it’s essentially Radiohead-by-way-of-Cap’n’Jazz, but you’d be hard-pressed to not single out glimpses and smatterings of just about everything even remotely emo and internet-tinged here. But really, there’s so much to make heads-or-tails of that an offhanded description can really get across. “puppy” is one of the more accessible tracks here, sounding like it could almost be in children’s sing-along movie before exploding into a soaring climax that carries the simple and playful skeleton to the brink of collapse, with singer J pushing her voice to the absolute limit. She tweeted out that it was the most “furry” song that the band has ever put out. I have no idea what the hell she means by that, but I believe her.

The easiest headline to hang your hat on here is that Glass Beach have honed in more on sounding a little more spacey and not quite as hung together by string in ways that can only be considered an improvement. While their penchant for zaniness and sudden shifts in tone are all still here, Plastic Death seems more together, where the payoffs and reveals are a little more logical and cogent. Living up to its namesake, “rare animal” is a jam-and-a-half that could really only exist with the band getting its *** together a little more, with a skull-splitting finale bursting forth from a calming, yet exotic, groove that sounds at home for a Donkey Kong level or something. Doubly-so for “commatose”, which towers at nearly ten-minutes in length and nearly crams in every angle the band has ever taken with the perspective and craftsmanship that can only come with time.

The flipside of that coin, however, is that Glass Beach are a lot harder of a nut to crack than before. Where once the band was affectionately sloppy and lending its insolvability to the fact that its pictures were smudged, the band has learned honest-to-god subtlety. This can mean that Plastic Death can sound aimless at times in contrast, but I instead choose to read it more as a living creature that is content to both take its sweet time in between moments of bombast, while also being unafraid to discard the crumb trail of the previous songs in favor of charting a new course. If that sounds a bit contradictory, it is. This is still Radiohead-by-way-of-Cap’n’Jazz after all. The pieces themselves may not entirely lineup, but they are clearly suggesting a whole that I may one day be able to wrap my head around.

Singer J has described Plastic Death as being about “the body/ a copy of a copy of a…/the simulacrum/virtual self/abyss” and the trans experience and many other things. And just as I did with her explanation of “puppy”, I believe her. I am not sure if I fully understand yet, but I am ready to roll my sleeves up and try.



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user ratings (121)
3.7
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
DadKungFu
Staff Reviewer
January 22nd 2024


4709 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

good good rev, I liked this enough to almost do a writeup but it was a given that someone else here would probably hit it better than I could and here's exhibit A

Odal
Staff Reviewer
January 22nd 2024


1971 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I kinda had the same line of thinking and just whipped something up in the absence of anything else being here already. Album is too good/interesting to be relegated to SoundOff Island

SlothcoreSam
January 22nd 2024


6195 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Best of 2024 so far, took a couple of listens, and good quality speakers, for it to really hit.

Odal
Staff Reviewer
January 22nd 2024


1971 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, I think the first two or three spins were me constantly pausing and rewinding songs to go "wait, what was that?" lol

Calc
January 22nd 2024


17334 Comments


If I hated this first one would I hate this too?

Prancer
January 22nd 2024


1599 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm sure the review is good but just chiming in to say that saltburn was ass

WatchItExplode
January 22nd 2024


10450 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Man this thing takes half a dozen listens before it actually starts to bloom. A slip under the door was my favorite on first listen and still is but I've come around to anything that didn't grab me initially.

Odal
Staff Reviewer
January 22nd 2024


1971 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@calc



I'm guessing probably, but it also depends on what you didn't like about the first one



This one has a lot more direction and focus than their first so if you hated just how RaNdOm xD it was, you may wanna give this a shot

Calc
January 22nd 2024


17334 Comments


you mentioning direction is what prompted me to ask my question in the first place so fuk it I'll give it a shot.

Squiggly
January 22nd 2024


1246 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I like this a lot while it’s on but it fails to leave any impression on me. I have no idea what most of the lyrics are about. But good review!

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
January 22nd 2024


32015 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I have the same feeling as Squiggly, I enjoyed listening to it but can't remember a single melody today lol



Will revisit eventually, good review Odal!

Squiggly
January 23rd 2024


1246 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Also was this a surprise release? I had no idea this was coming out

Odal
Staff Reviewer
January 23rd 2024


1971 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks y'all!



I think there was some lead up to it because CIA's streams are waaaaaay higher than the rest of the album, but I'm not sure how much time was allowed because this really snuck up on me too

brainmelter
Contributing Reviewer
January 23rd 2024


8318 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'm sure the review is good but just chiming in to say that saltburn was ass[2]

Dizchu
January 23rd 2024


544 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

first time listening to this, it's truly amazing. thanks for introducing it to me.

Naomi Lores
January 23rd 2024


27 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good review for a great album, I kinda miss some of the more anthemic, pop punk tracks on plastic death but this will be a hard Album of the Year to beat for me!

WalrusTusk
January 23rd 2024


1800 Comments


Saltburn was a fucking mess. Excited to check this album though. Really great write up man. Might be one of the best reviews I've seen on this site in a hot minute.

AmericanFlagAsh
January 23rd 2024


13224 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh nice gotta check, the first one was pretty damn good

Ebola
January 24th 2024


4511 Comments


Really, really enjoying this so far.

Project
January 24th 2024


5822 Comments


this is a lovely review and I'm so pleasantly surprised to see another glass beach album, the first one really charmed me despite all its rough edges



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