Plastic Animals - Pictures From The Blackout

Plastic Animals – Pictures From The Blackout

Plastic Animals have been slaving over Pictures From The Blackout, their debut album, for two years now. It all starts very promisingly, ‘Ghosts’ is ‘Knives Out’-style Radiohead, all urgency and fuzzy chords and heading off down a woozy rabbit hole halfway through before blossoming into a noisy crescendo. It’s followed by a whisper of feedback that becomes ‘Colophone’. It’s a Neu-ish krautrocker that’s more than six-and-a-half minutes long, and a strange choice as the second track as it’s by far the best thing here. It’s also mostly instrumental, the only vocals coming in after the best part of five minutes, and even then it’s just a vague chant of “Through the darkness comes the faintest light”. It’s a strange criticism to have to make, but the sheer strength of these two opening tracks almost puts the rest of the record in the shade.

‘Sigh-Fi’ is almost as long as ‘Colophone’ but doesn’t have nearly as many ideas and moves at a snail’s pace. The weird laser sound effects in the chorus are pleasant enough but you can’t help but think it would work better if it was half the length, especially when it all goes a bit bloody Pink Floyd in the middle eight. The strangest thing is the way it then morphs into a relatively upbeat outro that’s more interesting than the entire rest of the song. ‘Portal’ is the shortest track on the record and comes across like Interpol covering a My Bloody Valentine song. It’s dreamy chorus is held down to earth by the chugging rhythm section, but the relatively short running leaves you with the feeling the band have run out of ideas.

There’s something very likeable about ‘Die Ann’. It’s kind of a jangly pop song swathed in fuzz, the lyrics difficult to make out through the haze and singer Mario Cruzado’s unusual accent. He’s from Peru and lives in Edinburgh, so I guess it’s a mix of that, but it’s more noticeable on ‘Die Ann’ for some reason. Possibly because of the weird title: is it a pun, or a threat? The vocals are low enough in the mix that it probably doesn’t matter. ‘Demmin’ has the sense of propulsion along with the clean, reverby guitars that early Bloc Party had, but there’s still enough personality there that’s unique to Plastic Animals.

This is indicative of the record as a whole. The influences are laid bare, worn on their collective sleeve, but there’s a certain something that’s more difficult to put your finger on.  At only nine tracks the album could possibly have done with another spacey, kraut jam in the second half of the record, not least because the band describe themselves as “atmospheric punk rock sludge”. There’s plenty of atmosphere here, sure, and the sludge is possibly filled with glitter, but a good dollop more of punk rock would probably give the record more of an edge as they threaten to disappear into the dream-pop background. Fewer mid-tempo tunes, more of the oddness that is nicely shown off by the way that closer ‘Holy Daze’ (is that another pun name or what) disintegrates into 8-bit distortion for its final two minutes.

Release Date 29/01/2016 (Song, By Toad Records)


Andy Vine

Like all cis-male atopic half Welshmen, I'm a big fan of shouty indie, noisy drone and the daytime Radio 1 playlist. Outside of punk rock my primary interests are tea (white no sugar please) and beer (brown no sugar please). When I'm not writing about stuff for Silent Radio I'm occasionally doing my own stuff which you can read about at if you want (you should).