The Philadelphia based trio Plastic Shrines aims to incorporate many different elements into their realm of rock n’ roll. Two of the most prominent devices they include in their mixed genre are psych and jazz. Then take these two and infuse them with hard hitting lighting bolts of rock and it generates a lot of authenticity from their vocal compositions which are contributed by backing vocals added by the other band members. Their debut record together On the Lips shows precisely what musicians who all have a common goal of making a solid record together can get accomplished.
This dynamic of everyone helping on the songs extends to the way they play their music which comes off flawlessly despite all of them at times seeming to be off in different directions. Take the powerful rocker “King Size Death Bed” which is a fugue of nuance and restraint which boils into an all out assault of rock that never boils over the edge. This is controlled chaos as we find evidence of on the next rather bouncy and jazzy tune with a bit of country inflections “Take You 'Round Back.”
Even when their just jazzing around, as they do on the instrumental and jazzy rocker “Shook A.F.” they still have the power to keep the listener entertained by the sheer instrumentation. The sounds seem to bounce back and around each one of its players like a dance. Speaking of dance, the band adds a bit of rock-disco flair to their repertoire on the excellent jam-dance “Critical Attack” which brought me back to artists like the Happy Mondays that combined unlike genres into hits that will outlast so much else.
Plastic Shrines seek to show off their diversity by taking it to ambient territory on the other side of the tracks with “Ghost Plateau” a haunting sensation of noise that has the rhythm of a water dripping from a leaking faucet.
On the Lips is definitely one of the most diverse albums I’ve heard in a long time. Usually I find when bands try to genre hop too much it becomes like two jigsaw puzzles being mixed together and the result is an incomplete picture. But this is not the case here, and On the Lips has a lot to offer a variety of listeners.
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