The Plastic Constellations are an unusually likeable band. From the painting of the band jumping on the cover of their new album, Mazatlan, to the message on the back cover that reads “Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws and will melt your face off,” everything about the band screams “good times!” And if that wasn’t enough, the band’s debut, Let’s War, was released when all four members were still in high school. And if that doesn’t convince you that these guys are great, well, then their music most definitely will.
The Plastic Constellations’ newest album, Mazatlan, is an invigorating rush of high octane post-punk with plenty of witty lyricism to spare. The record begins with some silly but well harmonized “la-la-las” that abruptly transform into the jagged riffs of “We Came to Play.” It’s a fitting intro to an album made by a band making a comeback of sorts, having put rock `n’ roll on hold for college. Anthemic and mighty, the band sings in unison “We came to play/it’s what we do.”
From there, The Constys (as their fans sometimes call them) blaze full-throttle through ten more tracks of flashy guitar interplay and whimsical wordsmithery. “Davico” boasts a fist-pump worthy chorus, while “Beats Like You Stole Something” is more of the punk-with-a-degree magic heard in “We Came to Play.” But vocalist Aaron Mader does the unthinkable in “Movement Momentum,” changing his sing-speak style to something approaching hip-hop. And the fact that it’s not completely ass raises its credibility. An example of the science dropped:
“Minneapolis, just clap to this/
Or scrap to this with passion so miraculous/
Evangelists don’t know how to handle this”
But just when you expect more solid flows from our Minneapolitan M.C., the band morphs, yet again, into a different style. The title track sounds more like Pavement than Fugazi, as the razor-sharp riffs melt into a smoother indie-pop sound. All the while, Mader takes liberties with his grammar, whilst singing of hometown angst:
“We never spent spring break in Mazatlan/
I’m feeling cheated and misleaded/
But it’s cool though, `cause every girl that you know/
Came back with some sunburn, and some cornrows”
Every turn that The Plastic Constellations make is exciting and satisfying. Though most of the album doesn’t stray far from angular punk rock, each song contains subtleties and intricacies that make them stand apart from the others. And just when you think you have them pegged, they throw in something like the title track or the very Elliott Smith sounding “No Complaints.”
The Plastic Constellations are certainly in the running for “most fun band ever.” The space left by the departure of The Dismemberment Plan was pretty big, much to the band’s benefit. But even without the empty space, a band that can combine punk guitars and faux-rap without failing miserably is worthy of some sort of prize. So prepare yourself for The Plastic Constellations, because they’ve come to play. It’s what they do.
Dismemberment Plan – Emergency & I
The Detachment Kit – They Raging, Quiet Army
Les Savy Fav – Go Forth
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.