Regular Fries album review

12 Apr

A picture of the Regular Fries album War on Plastic Plants

an album that gives food for thought. War on Plastic Plants is junk food with brain food to go

Despite their name, the Regular Fries’ approach to music is far from ordinary. Caught in no man’s land between dance, rock, pop and funk (among others), their live performances (most recently supporting Underworld) have thrilled and bemused in equal measure. This is the Fries’ second album, following on from slow-groove space cadet manifesto ‘Accept the Signal’, and it’s a much more focussed affair. The first single from the album is possibly the best EP of the year so far, so it’s no surprise that three of those tracks make it on to ‘War on Plastic Plants’ in some form or other. The synth-guitar dogfight of Hell’s Angle is certainly more representative of the album than follow-up single Supersonic Waves – the slightly disappointing collaboration with Kool Keith that has received its fair share of radio play. The album kicks in with The Program, and you could be listening to the Lo Fidelity Allstars. And that’s not a bad start, considering that the Lo-Fi’s were the band who put the attitude and eclecticism into the otherwise one-dimensional Big Beat scene. Regular Fries seem too intent on experiencing everything to stay in one genre for long, but the attitude of the Lo-Fi’s carries on through the electro-Sly Stone of High As The Music and beyond. The other brothers in sound that come to mind are the Happy Mondays. This album is infused with their attitude and their lazy-funk groove – which were more or less the same thing for the Mondays. Direct comparisons are few and far between though, apart from the superb impression of a re-animated Shaun Ryder at the end of Blown A Fuse. This track is a definite highlight, and one of the few songs that travels at pace. Stretched over a driving disco bassline – like Underworld’s King Of Snake – it builds up to a guitar-wall crescendo competing with the Ryder-esque refrain “You can never loooose”. Brainticket is another stand out track. The one-note keyboard rhythm finally starts mutating about half way through – like The Who’s Baba O’Reilly – before phat bass and guitar bursts return. The lyric sheet simply states “Brainticket [loud]”. Genius. You’d be hard pressed to draw any enlightenment from the lyrics on this album, but the mood they create suits the music perfectly, even if the meaning doesn’t. On the acoustic denouement of Radio Virus, Dave Brothwell reflects “You can still hear these sounds / I’m never coming down”. In fact, they sound like they’re permanently coming down. But fortunately the Fries recognise the thrill of a bit of turbulence before gliding in to land. The mellower tracks successfully punctuate the album with, to quote from Pulp Fiction, rare moments of clarity. These include melancholy dreams in acoustic guitar (Eclipse) and bluesy clarinet (Voodoo). As a first guess, the quieter moments have been masterminded by Dave Fridmann – the man who produced psychedelic breakthrough albums by Mercury Rev and the Flaming Lips, and who co-produces 5 of the tracks here. But an anorak’s look at the sleeve notes reveals that the different styles are spread evenly across the 5 producers – which also include Chemical Brothers knob-twiddler Steve Dub. The Regular Fries co-produce throughout, and it’s a testament to the purity of their frazzled vision that they’ve produced a consistently excellent cross-genre album. So next time you want junk food and brain food at the same time, you should ask yourself: ‘Do you want Fries with that?'(8)

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