Let me start this review with the title of the album. For those who didn’t spend their youth curled up on rainy days with dice and a pencil, battling monsters, travelling through time or navigating outer space you can find all you need to know about Choose Your Own Adventures on the interweb. Rest assured as the album downloaded I was already smiling at the witty title worthy of punmasters Carter USM themselves… just brilliant chaps!
This titillating title stems from the 2nd track, Delete As Appropriate, lyrically written to the style of these mutli-choice adventure books, a feast of wit which I recall caused giggles aplenty at their performance on the OUS stage at GNUF. Indeed this frolicsome fiction is perhaps the essence of Plastic Jeezus. One is taken on the ups and downs of an uptempo bus journey and the rules that go with it with Buzzcuts, into a more deviant mind (Stalker Song) in a shadily springy manner and into a conversation with a child and their dream-blasting careers advisor. Witty as its premise promises one cannot help but think Primary School Careers Advisor is something the world could learn from. Perhaps our hopes and dreams, no matter how fanciful, should be nurtured just a little more and not quashed at childhood or indeed at anytime. We can’t ALL be professional pirates but we shouldn’t discourage eye patches and parrots even if it’s just a weekend thing. My rock star status didn’t quite materialise but isn’t it rather splendid to know I can ruck up to a uke festival or open mic night and still jam without prejudice. Indeed I’m sure no-one would mind if I wore an eye patch!
But let us not focus on the comedic elements too much, the lighter side aside, there are some great tunes here and the tight bouncing rhythm section is first class, the glue holding the feisty ukulele strums and intelligently brisk vocal lines steady. The drums are light and solid, brimming with elastic energy whilst the bass lines stabilise the rhythmic structures with an expert flair giving the perfect amount of walking patterns and melody. Indeed it is the mark of a good bass player who knows when to add some flourish and when to sit back and support the song. Aaron has utterly nailed it.
There are some well chosen harmonies too which support a lead vocal with bags of sincerity and charm, well articulated to give the jocular lyrical content centre stage. The ukulele mixes in the middle effortlessly, pulling on a variety of patterns and rhythms bringing to mind genres from bluegrass to offbeat chops that would be well placed on any 2-Tone record. A little keyboard here and there adds to the palette, sparingly blended to add a wee twist to the sound and what ukulele based album would be complete without a kazoo! (Here Be Monsters).
With the wit and pop-leanings of David Devant and His Spirit Wife and a subtle smattering of the youthful exuberance of The Coral, Plastic Jeezus are onto a sure fire winner with their utterly enjoyable misadventure. You’ve created a wonderful album boys, now turn to page 74 and proceed to main stages everywhere.