DGC Records, 1995


REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy


The Wire comparisons have been beaten to the ground by now. In case you don't know anything about the band Elastica, they generated much publicity when they swiped a guitar tab off the 70s punkish band Wire and used it for their hit song, "Connection".

Bands like Elastica and Rancid, who have waned storms of Clash comparisons, make an art form off of a sample. Sure, you can bastardize a band, like what Bush does to Nirvana or No Doubt does to Bow-Wow-Wow, but it takes a truely talented band to come up with a totally original sound, out of someone else's work.

Credit Elastica for knowing how to write a hook. Elastica is packed with them. Bands can sample other bands all they want, but when it comes down to it, if the band doesn't have the talent to come up with an original hook, they're shit out of luck. It helps that Elastica can come up with a bubblegum ditty like "Car Song" and "Line Up". Much help is due to the duling guitar musicianship of Donna Matthews and Justine Frischmann.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Frischmann also has another trump card she uses throughout Elastica: her voice. Though she may sing in a monotone, she has a damn sexy voice that never seems to get boring after repeated listens. True to punk form, Elastica has 16 supurb examples of hard edged brit pop and clocks in at about 40 minutes. Get in, get a hook started, sing the verse and hop on to the next song.

Elastica oozes with attitude. Aside from Frischmann's pouty voice, drummer Justin Welch and former bassist Annie Holland provide an effective rhythm section. It's an album full of guilty pleasures. A type of album you put on while you're driving to a party in a rented tux. You may be falt broke, but you're "macking" it for the moment. Songs that go along with this mood include the superficial "Car Song" and the sway-like groove of "Hold Me Now".

The mood does turn to dark towards the end of the album. The most poingant song on the album, "Never Here" tells the story of a relationship that is crashing due to stagnation. "Too much TV and curry, too much time spent on ourselves," Frischmann sings. Towards the end, she accuses her boyfriend of ignoring her by singing, "You were far too busy writing rhymes that didn't scan." Most heartbreaking is when she turns the blame on herself by altering that line to, "I was far too busy writing rhymes that'll never scan."

The bouncy rockers and the personal confessions come to a train wreck in the song, "Stutter". That's Elastica's brightest spot on their album. The topic of the song is enough to make most males turn down volume:impotence. But the hook and the chorus are so damn catchy, you can't help but crank the volume as Frischmann sneers, "Is it something you lack/while I'm flat on my back/Is there something that I can do for you?"

Hard to believe, but it's been about four years since the band unleashed this album onto the public. With Holland gone and Frischmann making repeated changes for the new album, you wonder if that band may be suffocating on the pressure of following up an excellent album that did indeed break a few musical barriers. Even if the band were to break up now, Elastica is enough of a testament to leave for the 90s. A mixture of good time rockers and moody come-down songs, Elastica is like a soundtrack to a really good all night party.


Rating: A-

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© 1998 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of DGC Records, and is used for informational purposes only.