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Plastic Venus

Helven Park

Many Swim releases are rooted firmly in technology, so it's quite a surprise to find Plastic Venus taking a direct, 'back to basics' approach to rock. Unfortunately, the small amount of technology on display here is the undoing of the album. Helven Park contains all the typical elements of a rock band: drums, bass, guitar and vocals, but everything seems to be drowned in masses of reverb.

Now and again it almost works, building a ghostly and other-worldly sound. However, most of the time instrumentation and vocals are so heavily reverberated that everything ends up sounding dangerously dirge-like. There are exceptions, such as the eerie Kiss, which also provides one of the few decipherable lyrics: 'Sleep 'til you die; Kiss 'til you die/I don't want any of it coming back on me...'. Cheerful, indeed. Perhaps this is one reason why many of the lyrics are inaudible...

The opener, It's Dead, also proves to be quite strong, as does the Velvet Underground tinged Wait. It's a pity the effects units weren't subdued early on, as the whole thing ends up sounding like a muddy Seefeel album that's also got a few fast numbers. However, whereas that band were aiming to create a sort of ambient mixture of guitars, vocals and drums, Helven Park falls between that and standard rock, and ends up simply sounding very lost, messy and confused.

Craig Grannell (1998)

Cover artwork