By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
No one likes to say goodbye. But love ain't for keeping, and after a decade and a half as a local lighthouse of relevant rock, the Plastic Constellations have executed a fine exeunt, bidding adieu to their dear devoted with We Appreciate You. The farewell release is a fugue of many voices united, a gracious and gripping goodbye that proves parting to be the sweetest sorrow after all.
The first act makes a grand showcase of the camaraderie that the album art illustrates. "Stay That Way" is a Snap Pop, nervy and combustive, in which gang vocals chant from the rear of the house and Aaron Mader's and Jeff Allen's guitars effortlessly journey hand in fist from blaring count-offs to singing tandem solos. In "Floated Down and Flew Around," ethereal guitar tones gleam around house party "woo"s like powdered light in a mid-song ascent that is sure to cause a pause of reflection on the dance floor. For its first 15 minutes, the album is a tremendous party.
Its middle passage finds the album temperamental and chimeric—"Black Market Pandas" strides from quiet repose to crushing mania, plunging drummer Matt Scharenbroich into a double time that foreshadows "Heat Knocker," the album's bipolar savant. A tantrum of guitars carry the song into cacophony and drag it into a panicked, poppy last-minute finish while "We Are Genius Millionaires," with its overdriven drums, haunting piano hook, and the plinkety-plunk of Fischer Price music makers, evokes the days when Elephant 6 was a relevant pop force, before Jeff Magnum went crazy and Robert Schneider started mailing it in. The guitar melodies are pure steel filigree on "Phantom Canyon," a rocker that crackles like crushing aluminum. Its final line, "We'll stay by your side till sound don't apply," streams poignantly into "So Many Friends," a closer that finds TPC fully nude, their songwriting whittled to its marrow. "We're not here to change things," goes the chorus over claps and lonesome acoustics. "We're here to survive."
And with that, they depart. Saying a proper goodbye is a high art. This is one that leaves us at the train platform lonely, fulfilled, and fond.