If you lived on a little tropical island in the Indian Ocean, what kind of music would you make? Planck has answered this question with their debut album, Last Day of Holidays. It’s hard not to romanticize a band that lives and works on a gorgeous, secluded island, but this is not romantic music. This is also not surfer rock. So, throw away your preconceptions about what island music should sound like before listening.
On this debut album, the French band Planck delivers five, relatively long songs, by today’s standards. The three-piece band creates a full-bodied, atmospheric sound from an eerie guitar, doom filled drums and seemingly insubstantial lyrics. The result is psychedelic grunge that fills my earphones to the brim.
Rather than telling a story, this album expresses emotions. It explores the unexplainable feelings that words sometimes can’t grasp. This music expresses the uncomfortable feelings that develop in the gut and then ferment in our murky acidic stomach juices. They’re hard things to write about, let alone talk about. However, Planck has done a pretty damn good job of expressing these emotions through music.
Each track builds substantially, often beginning quite slow and with an air of anticipation. Although each song contains lyrics, the vocals blend in with the instrumentals and act as another instrument. Often the song titles give as much insight into the meaning of a song as the lyrics. For example, on the track “Waiting for the Rain” the minimal lyrics all directly address the feeling of waiting for the rain. The lyrics provide a starting point for the listener, but the music finishes the job.
Planck aligns itself with the difficult-to-define post-rock genre in which rhythms and guitars create textures not previously heard in traditional rock. Influence from post-rock groups such as Swans and Stereolab can be heard on this album. However, Planck’s sound is uniquely contemporary, to the point of being a detriment. At times, I craved for Planck to delve deeper into their experimental roots and get a little bit weirder. Perhaps we can look forward to more experimental material from Planck in the future.
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