The Plastic Pals
Turn The Tide
added: 14 Mar 2013
// release date: 6 Feb 2013 // label: Polythene Records
reviewer: Claudia A
Stockholm-based combo The Plastic Pals
emerged on the scene in spring 2005. Perhaps too rootsy to be called garage, too poppish to be called rootsy, too garage to be called alt-country, their unique sound nonetheless continues to attract an increasing number of fans worldwide.
The debut album ‘Good Karma Café’ – with guest appearances by former Green On Red
keyboard maestro Chris Cacavas
– has received positive reviews on the Continent as well as in the UK.
The Pals’ new album, ‘Turn The Tide’, was produced by Chris Cacavas at Studio White Lodge, Ludwigsburg, Germany.
The combo is comprised of Hĺkan ‘Hawk’ Soold
(vocals/guitar), Olov Öqvist
(drums), Bengt Alm
(bass/backup vocals) and Anders Sahlin
‘Turn The Tide’ features 13 tracks on the CD (10 on vinyl) which invite the listener on a musical journey spanning several decades, with styles as varied as classic guitar rock, roots-Americana (I begin to hate that word…), glam, doo-wop, power-pop, psychedelic garage, and paisley underground.
That’s admittedly an ambitious lot to cram into one album, but The Plastic Pals
have done a good job in blending those ingredients and churning out a sound that’s still distinctively their own.
Not quite as poppy and as catchy as predecessor ‘Good Karma Café’, the follow-up is more on the moody and broody side of things – as the title suggests, it turns the tide.
Opener ‘All the Way’ is a smoothly flowing slice of guitar-driven, pop-orientated magic, cranking up the riff factor midway and seducing courtesy of Hawk’s voice and edgier guitar solos.
‘A Couple Of Minutes’ – harder in vibe – makes great use of the combo’s talent for superb and crystal clear vocal harmonies, as well as some finely delivered riff-work. “There is nothing you can do about love”
, declares Hawk, and well, there’s nothing you can do about really liking that song!
Simply wonderful is ‘The Final Remedy’, with its flavour of bands like The Pretenders
to it. A dead-catchy hook, a dead-catchy chorus, not to mention a dead-catchy overall tune, make this one of the strongest tracks on the album!
Speaking in metaphors (or perhaps it’s just my raunchy imagination) is ‘The Sweet Spot’ – a mellow affair about longing, loneliness and the fear of getting burned all over again. Nothing too outstanding here musically speaking, but the poetic lyrics more than compensate for it.
More in the vein of garage rock (albeit almost too clear and clean in sound to pass for it) is ‘Travelling’, effectively held together by a cool rhythm and some understated percussions that allow the guitars to come to the foreground, and the vocals to unfold.
If ‘Turn Of The Tide’ is a speedier nod to Elvis Costello
-style song-writing, then ‘Providence’ steps back in gear and – with its almost acoustic delivery – seduces beginning to end.
Personal favourite is ‘Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea’, not just because the title resonates with me in more ways than just one, but because the slightly rockabilly dominated composition has it almost all (bare a voice that here doesn’t sound dirty and mean enough). Slightly too controlled to do the title full justice, though the guitar solos sound pretty mean.
We get a hint of Gram Parsons
/ alt-country feel with the upbeat ‘Wouldn’t Change A Thing’, with the backing vocals adding the finishing touch.
‘Caramel, She Said’ sails along calmly without stirring too many waves, but it gets livelier again on the poppy ‘Cards’.
‘Leave It Til Tomorrow’ is a pretty little chill-out tune, while the simmering and strong on lyrics ‘Miracles’ suggests a warm musical journey into the horizon. And hopefully it’s a journey that sees the Pals setting foot on English shores soon.
Stay updated with your free Music News daily newsletter. Subscribe here now!
Have Your Say
Click here to win an iPhone5!
> For more Music-News album reviews click here