Album of the Day: Plastic Mermaids, “Suddenly Everyone Explodes”

Psychedelia traditionally implies a break from reality, a means for artists to escape the humdrum nature of everyday existence and defy the laws of linear logic. But for Plastic Mermaids, real life is bewildering enough. On their debut full-length, Suddenly Everyone Explodes, the Isle of Wight band overwhelm with shapeshifting, sensory-overloading pop songs that siphon their restless irreverence from the masters of modern psychedelic rock: the confetti-blasting splendor of The Flaming Lips, the future-shocked freakery of the Super Furry Animals, the mischievous melodies of the weirder MGMT records. But amid the holiday-parade majesty of “1996” and motorik folk-rock of “I Still Like Kelis,” you’ll find tender treatises on the difficulties of finding and maintaining meaningful connections in the digital age.

Cut through the sonic clutter and you’ll find that, at its core, this is an album of love songs, a catalog of intimate exchanges and awkward moments. (“Milk”—the sort of oddball ballad Graham Coxon might’ve tried to sneak onto one of the later Blur albums—drops you right into some tense domestic scene already in progress: “Across the table, you glance over at me, then you shamelessly knock back a jug of milk.”) But these aren’t just songs about love; they’re songs that sound like what being in a relationship feels like—the heart-pounding elation, the heady disorientation, the emotional devastation. With a volatile cocktail like that, who needs drugs?

-Stuart Berman

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