PLVNET’s new EP Syzygy is everything you could ask for, and more
Back in December of last year I reviewed a new single by PLVNET (pronounced “planet”, if you missed it the first time) with the promise that I’d revisit the band when their EP was finished and ready for release. The time has come, gentle reader. Syzygy, the band’s latest release, is only a few days old as of this writing and is everything the first single suggested it would be.
The word syzygy refers to (among other broader definitions) an alignment of three or more celestial objects, a fact I know solely because of The X-Files. Taking in to account the band’s name, syzygy as a title for a disc is clever at first glance.
Once you’ve listened to the disc, however, it becomes far more apropos as it seems that the various elements that make the band who and what they are have “come in to alignment” with this latest release.
Last time around I described the band’s sound as having a Foo Fighters quality to it, and I stand by that, but in the interim (and now with three more tracks to listen to) I’ve expanded that list of presumed influences to include the F-Ups and Muse (and likely a dozen more groups that I don’t know the names of.)
Taking that in to consideration, I would not have used “punk” as an initial description of PLVNET, but it cannot be denied that these fellas definitely have punk in their veins, and I think now that perhaps “punk-pop” captures them better than any other label I can think of (bearing in mind I generally don’t like labels.)
In fact, “punk-pop” seems like an oxymoron at first, but here we have a band with snarly, angry (and speedy) guitar work that manages to also have a melodic side and vocals that are infinitely more likely to garner airplay than, say, the Plasmatics.
So “punk-pop” it is, and it’s actually a brilliant synthesis. The disc weighs in with just four precious tracks, carefully selected and lovingly crafted to put the band’s best foot forward. “Weather” is the opening track and it is replete with the elements I have come to expect from the band: a brisk tempo, unique chord voicing, perfect stops and transitions, and vocals (lead and backing) that soar.
If I had to sum up the tune (and the entire band, really) in a single word it would be, “dynamic.” There’s a lot of motion in these songs, but not too much. A song with too much going on is hard to listen to, but PLVNET seems to have found the sweet spot. I also suspect that at least one of these guys has a jazz background. The compositions have a complexity far beyond what one expects from pop tunes.
“Karma” is the next track on the CD and my personal favorite because while it still has the familiar elements of the first track, melodically it conveys a kind of subtle angst that is just musical candy to me.
I was hesitant to use the word angst, I know that it carries some preconceptions of emo kids cutting themselves and such, but it is the proper word in this context and there is NOTHING “emo” about the tune. Quite the opposite, the song is energizing, the kind of song that breaks you out of your melancholy, making you burst through the door to grab life by the nuts and squeeze, just to show who’s boss. Yeah, my personal favorite for sure.
“Cannibals” is a brilliant bit of social commentary and easily the most progressive tune on the disc. In fact, if three-quarters of the CD is punk-pop, I have to call this particular tune prog-pop. The lyrics are poignant without being heavy-handed and the point is made with a scalpel rather than a sledgehammer. Wes Hartman has the voice of a rock star, no doubt at all, but he also has a band equal to that lofty title and this tune more than any other demonstrates that.
Once again, the band is dynamic like few others. They pack so much in to such short tunes (songs on this disc range from 3:18 to 3:42) that it’s like an aural playground where you never run out of fun stuff to do.
The final track, “Street Lights,” has already been reviewed in depth here at The Pulse and a quick search for PLVNET should bring that article up.
The EP is Syzygy, and while it’s only four songs long, it’s more than enough to establish PLVNET as one of the best, most exciting bands in the region.
Listen for yourself by downloading the album from the sites that carry digital downloads or, better yet, pick up and honest to goodness hard copy at one of their upcoming shows (June 4th at the Fire in the Valley fest in Redbank or June 18th at 9:30 p.m. on the Unum stage at Riverbend.)