By Emily Duff
Alternative rock band Plastic Barricades are back with their new album, 'Self-Theories', which follows on from their 2017 LP, 'Mechanics of Life'. Always asking the melancholic questions, Plastic Barricades claim to “heal your wounds” through this album, making it clear that raw emotion and energy has been incorporated into the creation of the 11 tracks that make it up. Split between London and Paris, Plastic Barricades have a unique sound of underground music from around Europe but also using heavy inspiration from classic bands from Radiohead to Nirvana to Oasis and others.
Written and recorded in a shed in North-West London, 'Self-Theories' manages to sound upbeat and exciting while discussing pessimistic ideas of loneliness. Targeting the day dreamers of the world, Plastic Barricades write music to comfort and connect, an aim that is successfully achieved through their opening track, 'Tunnel', that manages to incorporate funky drum rhythms and a toe-tapping chorus with desolate lyricism like, “you’re on your own for now, you really miss that sound”. The accompanying music video was filmed using a digital microscope which gave it a raw and hands-on style that amplified the personal touch that can be heard throughout the track. The idea of the microscope is meant to exaggerate the idea of ourselves being looked at in a close-up - Plastic Barricades aim to ask the question, “What would your anxieties look like under a microscope?”.
Following 'Tunnel', 'Optimist' similarly followed this DIY-style of a music video - using over 300 people filled in a fish tank. However, the track took a more upbeat approach, opening with major notes over a drum and guitar riff by Paul Love. While most of the tracks focus on the bad in the world, 'Optimist' takes an unsurprisingly optimistic view point that discusses the idea of the world being a place to use at our whim rather than to adhere to. This can be heard in the striking lyric, “There are many pathways to explore...For an optimist”, telling their listeners to look for the good in opportunities rather than focusing on our natural anxieties about new situations and experiences.
'Don’t Follow Me!' opens with a tense rumble before juxtaposing calmed guitar riffs begin the track. The vocals take centre stage with Dan Kert sticking to a calm but pessimistic tone, with lyrics like “I’m standing on the edge / I’ll pay the cost” being repeated in each chorus and embodying the melancholic ideas encapsulated in the whole album.
'Right to be Adored' then comes in with an upbeat drum riff - highlighting the album's flip-flop between the miserable and the exciting viewpoints we can take on life. I think this is something that many listeners can relate to, especially those looking to have their wounds “healed”.
Later in the album, 'One for the Road' strays away from the previous negative ideas and rather choses to focus on travel and self-discovery. One of my favourite tracks on the album, 'One for the Road' focuses on the freedom of exploring and its necessity in self-development and fulfilment. Rather than worrying about others, the track reasurrase a listener that, “They’ll never know that we ran away / They will be busy finding reasons to stay behind”. This perfectly summarises the guilt that many people can feel when they begin to move on with their lives or move in a different direction to those who they have found themselves surrounded by for years. This is something natural that I think most people of any age can appreciate - sometimes you need to do what's best for you. Even if it's scary, moving away from the comfort of what you know to follow new paths that interest you will always be the most important thing. A key moral I took from this track was to always put yourself first - a very important message.
Ending with their demo, 'Final Chance', Plastic Barricades ends their album in a calm and almost spiritual note, describing “holding hands”. Completely slowing the pace down, 'Final Chance' comes out at the other end of the self-discovery described throughout the album - making its meaning something individual to each listener.
With beautiful artwork by Elina Pasok showing a house turned on its side, it embodies the idea of questioning ourselves that 'Self-Theories' aims to do. Titled ‘Self-Theories’ based on the idea of human nature and stereotypes that define our thoughts, feelings and behaviour, Plastic Barricades do not aim to promote this but rather question its truthfulness - arguing rather that our actions define who we are. It doesn’t matter your morals or the things you say, if the way you live your life does not show this then the self-theories you have developed become meaningless.
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