First of all, this has fuck all to do with Luke Vibert. I was pretty dejected when I realised Upset The Rhythm’s latest offering, drums and bass girly-duo Plug, had just pilfered Lukey V’s side project namesake. That is, until I listened to their self-titled debut release.
The girls are upfront with their influences, and why shouldn’t they be? With obvious record collection appearances from X-Ray Spex, Le Tigre, and M.I.A. Georgie Nettell and Sian Dorrer clearly had one hand fingering through ‘Female Fronted’ whilst the other did a good impression of Thing over in Rap/Hip Hop. Not a million miles away from recent releases by and Sleighbells and Trash Kit, their sound is the meeting point of New York synth-rap and London DIY-indie.
Don’t Forget It is the musical equivalent of that slightly embarrassing middle class student fees protest. A bit of naïve moaning about the state of the country made more interesting by some decent beat(ing)s. Fix Up Look Sharp inspired You Keep The Beats, and Poly Styrene vocal impression Body Story are solid tracks with simplistic vocals layered over even simpler drums and ‘check out this amazing keyboard I got in the charity shop’ keys. Dorrer’s true Brit-girl vocals shout at you matter of factly in Man vs. Machine, and feel strongly reminiscent of Elastica’s Justine Frischmann. Real Girl is the track you’ll keep coming back to. It’s a more authentic version of the fashion-rap they try to produce and sits closer to Fannypack than the Uffie shit they veer into at times. At this point I’d like to commend them for their braveness in including Beatles cover Day Tripper. I don’t even really like listening to The Beatles sing songs by The Beatles, but it’s a softer more dreamy side to the band that otherwise is only really seen on final track, Attractive, which is akin to that single soft and sweet Bikini Kill track, Outta Me.
The thing you have to ask yourself when considering whether Plug will be a ‘free download of the single’ or actual ‘bother to drag your lazy arse to Rough Trade’ kind of album is, Do you have any faith in the London DIY scene? This release could easily be filed away under ‘simplistic drums meets spacey keys brought together by fringed hipsters’. Or, as another important step towards creating a fresh wave of fem-fronted bands that aren’t (albeit successfully) ripping off The Shagri La’s. If they can make a full album of the hints toward social commentary and lyrical honesty shown sporadically here, their next release could be great. I might even find myself pulling a disappointed face when I hungrily sit down to review it, only to be greeted by half an hour of Luke Vibert sampling old ladies over some re-hashed drum & bass.
Words : Maya-Rose Boustany