In true Twilight Zone fashion, The Fantastic Plastics preach at a pulpit from the past, while forging fearlessly into the future. Sparkling like genuine diamonds displayed among generic diamelles in today’s retro/pop showcase, the synth-inspired darlings began building their place of prominence on the U.S. alternative music scene in 2014 with the release of their Coleco-charged debut EP, Outsiders. More appealing than pulling a Nintendo all-nighter, their joystick-jerking full-length follow-up, Devolver arrived at various streaming sites and online retailers five years ago this past week (September 18, 2015), via Altercation Records.
As a result of Devolver’s undeniably authentic Devo-driven WOW-factor, keyboardist/vocalist Miranda Plastic and fellow time traveler, guitarist/vocalist Tyson Plastic soon were plucked from America’s heartland by youth culture visionary, Kevin Lyman, to appear on the 2017 Vans Warped Tour. From there, the one-time Brooklyn-based duo continued crisscrossing the country on national concert tours, while releasing the subsequent EPs; Invasion (2017) and MLFNCTN (2019), the last of which’s review you can read here. And despite the current ensuing apocalypse, the Plastics have powered through 2020, igniting a fantastic new fan base on Twitch.
For Plastic purists, Devolver continues to be the cornerstone of the combo’s impeccable catalog. What makes the 11-song set still so satisfying is, while many of their pseudo-contemporaries promise retro-flavored entrées (only to pull a hip-hop switcheroo three songs into the track list), Miranda and Tyson possess the cojones to actually deliver, from start to finish. In fact, when you open one of their songs in iTunes, the genre description reads “New Wave” — freaking perfect!
Bursting with lyrics as crisp and clever as the Numan/Frehley-fueled riffs, the quirky, high-energy cavalcade kicks off with the futuristic-feeling, synth-style staple, “We Are Obsolete” — Things will never be the way they used to be — Ain’t that the truth. A galloping ode to non-gender-binding working stiffs, “Overtime” is an equally shiny “keeper” — We clock in, we clock out. We bring the numbers up, we push the cost down. A telling tribute to Tinseltown, “It’s All Plastic” also beams brightly — This is the time when the false will feed. You better watch out, it’s a glamour stampede.
The super-infectious, guitar-gunkin’ “Troublemaker” makes for another of the record’s many standouts — Hey, that’s not really David Lee Roth doing back-ups… is it? A mighty two-tissue moment, the droning twinkle of “Mr. Computer” merging with the space-age swagger of “Thought Patrol” is pure magic.
Delivering all “thriller” and no “filler,” Devolver keeps revving on all cylinders with the urgent “Under the Knife,” while “Assimilate” is a manic, Orwell-caliber classic. And if that’s not too far out of this world for you, “Electric Eyes” definitely will transport you to a “wild planet.”
It beeps, it buzzes. It hits ya, it hooks ya. It’s catchy, it’s contagious. In sum, five years on, Devolver is still fresh, still fun — a fantastic piece of plastic that won’t likely ever become obsolete.
Devolver Track Listing:
1. We Are Obsolete (3:17)
2. Overtime! (3:24)
3. It’s All Plastic (1:57)
4. Troublemaker (3:21)
5. Mr. Computer (2:33)
6. Thought Patrol (3:25)
7. Under the Knife (3:03)
8. Assimilate (2:09)
9. Mechanical Satisfaction (3:08)
10. Electric Eyes (2:58)
11. Looking Backward (2:39)
Run Time: 31:54
Release Date: September 18, 2015
Record Label: Altercation Records