Friday, April 2, 2021

PLASTIC TEARS "Anthems For Misfits"


(c) 2021 WormHoleDeath Records

  1. Doomsday Girls
  2. Riot Zone
  3. Clash In The Night
  4. Look Of Lies
  5. Hallucinations
  6. Divine 
  7. Radar Eyes
  8. Restless Outsider
  9. Nobody Likes A Crybaby
  10. Candlelight Hate Affair
  11. Communication
  12. Imaginary Virgin Mary
Miqu December--Lead Vocals
Andy Whitewine--Guitars
Juha Pietilainen--Guitars
Edu Kettunen--Bass
Eco Xtasy--Drums

It's been three years since Finnish street rockers, Plastic Tears, released their (to me) surprisingly good Angels With Attitude album.  Combining bits of sleaze and punk with an obvious love of/respect for Finnish legends, Hanoi Rocks, Plastic Tears created a musical environment on that record that I was in no way prepared for.  Could the band capture the magic again on Anthems For Misfits?  With the same lineup intact from the previous record, a new record label, and an entire pandemic's worth of time to craft songs, I had to admit I was hopeful for a record that was at least close to their last effort.  I was not surprised for a record that was even better, however.

As soon as the distorted guitars cut loose on the punkish glam rocker, "Doomsday Girls", it is evident the band is picking up right where they left off.  A rollicking piano is thrown into the mix here, adding even more fun to this barroom boogie track that is intentionally messy, exceptionally raw, and unquestionably fun, as Miqu and the boys tear through the album's opening cut and wrap things up in under two-and-a-half minutes!  Things are off and running for Anthems...right from the jump!

The album's lead single is up next with "Riot Zone", which abandons the piano in favor of even grittier guitars, an extra helping of sneer from Miqu's voice, rapid fire drum cadences from Xtasy, and fun, carnival-effects breakdown before the last run through the high-octane chorus!  Sound like a disaster waiting to happen?  I imagine it could have been if handled by a lesser-caliber band, but for Plastic Tears, a track like this is just another day at the musical office, and "Riot Zone" is a perfect example of what this band does best!  Check out the official video below.

"Clash In The Night" changes things up just a bit, not by slowing the track down, but by altering the approach of the delivery.  Less chaos, more control is the motto of this track that has crossover radio appeal written all over know, if radio still played rock n roll (maybe it does in Finland and Europe).  The guitar solo here shows a nice melodic approach without wandering into sappy territory, and Miqu backs off the punkish flavor of his usual vocals to adopt a cleaner singing style that works very well,  "Clash..." is a nice surprise and at 4:05, clocks in as the longest song on the entire album, without feeling like it.  

"Look Of Lies" straddles the styles of "Riot Zone" and "Clash In The Night" pretty nicely, with a spy-thriller movie tone added to the main guitar riff and a collection of "la la la's" from Miqu shaking up the overall feel of the track just enough that the listener may feel a bit of musical vertigo just four tracks into Anthems For Misfits, as the band really lets all of their influences creep into the mix by this point in the record.  "Look Of Lies" also features a nice guitar solo and some more great work from Xtasy on drums that are well worth checking out.

Just when you thought you might have a grasp on where Plastic Tears was headed with this record, the coolest track on the disc pops up...and it is unlike anything you have heard from the band before.  Finger snaps, a walking bass line, and a Stray Cat strut approach tease and taunt throughout "Hallucinations", with a bluesy guitar solo thrown into this snazzy, jazzy, Zoot suit number that I constantly find myself hitting repeat on.  Miqu's delivery is spot-on here, and everything just seems to click on a track that, by all accounts, should be totally out of the comfort zone for Plastic Tears.  However, the band pulls off a track most other bands of this style wouldn't even attempt, and they do it with a cool factor that few bands of ANY style today could likely top.  Love this track!

"Divine" and "Radar Eyes" both add the grit and sleaze back to the music, with "Radar Eyes" being another track that really fights for the right to claim the title of best song on Anthems For Misfits.  I love the guitar tone used here, and the more mid-tempo rock approach works exceptionally well here.  The main guitar hook here is catchy, and the lead solo is very strong, with the guitar tandem of Whitewine and Pietilainen showing a great ability to fit their sound to any style the band demands of them.  The addition of a Hammond organ is a nice touch, and I wish I knew who to credit for the piano/organ/keys that pop up in various songs here, as these instruments do add a depth that belies the band's punk/sleaze background.

"Restless Outsider" is another catchy rocker with Miqu going into full Billy Idol-meets-Elvis snarl mode vocally, and "Nobody Likes A Crybaby" brings a definite danceability to an rollicking rockabilly track with some definite sleaze influence, especially on the guitar solo.  Kettunen's bass work is on fine display throughout the record, but aside from "Hallucinations", it is perhaps not felt as strongly anywhere as during the bridge section of "...Crybaby", where handclaps accompany the rumbling bass line and snappy drums.  Good stuff!

"Candlelight Hate Affair" has a healthy dose of 80s New Wave interwoven into the track and Miqu sounds like he would be up for attempting a cover of Simple Minds "Don't You Forget About Me" as an encore in concert sometime.  Some cool keyboard effects intermix with the laid back guitars to once again showcase the fact that Plastic Tears is not a one-trick pony...yet they always manage to sound like Plastic Tears, largely thanks to Miqu's vocals.  This is a fun changeup near the end of the record and is a song I hope the band manages to sneak into their live sets at some point.  Go ahead and feel free to throw a Breakfast Club Bender fist into the air as you exit this cool, nostalgic-feeling track!

"Communication" is a sub-two-minute blast of punk rock energy complete with a churning bass line, guitars that threaten to chew their way out of the speakers, a break-neck pace, and gang-shouted vocals on the chorus section that is pretty much done by the time you have finished reading this!  A short, sweet, and to the point reminder of who Plastic Tears has always been and where they come from stylistically, regardless of the variety they bring to a record such as Anthems For Misfits.  

The album wraps with another insanely catchy rocker that, despite its placement on the record, is another of the tunes vying for best of the best here.  "Imaginary Virgin Mary" brings everything together, from snappy rhythms and buzzsaw guitars, to a HUGE tempo change during a bridge section that features only a softly tinkling piano (which returns later to end the song...and record).  Miqu is in top form on this track, snarling, crooning, and delivering his vocals in a manner that, quite honestly, you will either love or hate; it's really that simple.  And, that in a nutshell, describes not only this record, but Plastic Tears, overall.  What you think about Anthems For Misfits and Plastic Tears is going to hinge largely on two things:  your preference on vocal style and what you think about the genre-defying, sleaze-punk "Street Rock" the band plays. 

To me, there is no arguing the talent of the band, as they put on full display with Anthems... an ability to pull off just about any kind of music they want to, and they do it with a Plastic Tears flair.  Is it metal?  Nope.  Punk?  Maybe sometimes.  Sleaze?  Here and there, sure.  But they are also glam, New Wave, and apparently 1950s rockabilly, all at the same time!  And I honestly feel that Miqu's vocals are a huge part of the band and its uniqueness that helps Plastic Tears transcend genres so easily, but I also get why they might not be everyone's style.  For me, however, I'll take Plastic Tears any day over cookie-cutter clone bands with no real personality and no ability to push the envelope of who they are as a band.

True to the album's title, Plastic Tears is a band of musical misfits, and Anthems For Misfits is a perfect representation of who they are.  

Rating:  Definitely crankable!  Crank this to 8!

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