ISI Music (label)
12 March 2014 (released)
12 April 2014
Plastic Yellow Band seem like more of a tribute band than a band in their own right—for a band from South Carolina to be so heavily influenced by John Lennon and Yoko Ono's, Plastic Ono Band (right down to the name), means that you know pretty much exactly what to expect from this meditative, poly-symbolyic 12-track album.
This being said, don't expect a single tempo and a rigidity of musical influences. 'Breathe Air' really grits its teeth and displays a freedom of musical expression that makes it both reminiscent of classic 60s/70s rock and honourable of modern progressive rock too. If you're not quite sure what I'm getting at here, just check out the song 'Oil Kings' and how it transforms in a split second from one thing to something else. Ultimately, though this is one album, it comes across like a greatest hits compilation with no regard for the linearity of the way an album builds in terms of tempo and energy...which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Often compared to John Lennon vocally as well as stylistically, singer/songwriter Gerry Jennings leads the way with a keen understanding of effective song composition, timing and execution. However, in terms of lyricism, Jennings is a lot more vanilla than Lennon's multi-flavoured knickerbocker glory. Still, there is no lack of intelligence or emotionality from 'Breathe Air' that just about elevates it from the doldrums of modern lyricism about conventional themes of vice.
Defined as 'new classic rock', 'Breathe Air' – and the band itself – insist on remaining true to their roots in producing an authentic, predominantly acoustic homage to an era with a traditional take on musicality and performance as kindred spirits. The things the band do on the album are outstanding and vibrant but, young or old, needn't feel excluded from anything this offering delivers. The quality of the musicianship truly is as high as the production values that have gone into 'Breathe Air' and if you don't appreciate the band's style, you can at least applaud the attention to detail paid and effort.