Pllush Stranger To The Pain Review For Northern Transmissions

Father/Daughter Records

8.5/10

Pllush

Stranger To The Pain

Dynamics can be often so overlooked in music, that a song with great momentum can be instantly neutered by ideas as simple as volume. For their new record Pllush bring heartfelt music with crazy tone control but it’s all bolstered by the releases they bring each track to. While they are great songwriters, they really know how to take their music that much further.

The dramatic shift that takes “Elliot” from a simple guitar crooning song is so loud that it’ll leave you gasping. While the whole song is wonderful journey to follow, this initial moment really blows other bands’ drops out of the water. The dense guitar continue on “Syrup” but Karli Helm’s vocals take a much more confrontational energy this time around. As the feedback hits devastating highs, many of the amazing harmonies the band muster come tumbling down into a wall of glorious noise.

There’s a snick behind the snarky lines of “Ortega” as Eva Treadway tries to figure where she is and reflects on how exactly she got there. Simultaneously gritty and powerfully catchy, Pllush are able to make their heavy sounds accessible. Under the calmer tones and sombre energy of “Big Train” Pllush manage to use depth to make their huge choruses feel even bigger and more satisfying. Here the venom behind the lyrics is still there but you can understand exactly where it’s coming from.

As the sparse energy of “Fallout” allows Pllush to explore their writing in a more free-flowing way, they create an echo-heavy and thought provoking listen. The relationship reflections however are the true center of the track as its drops are secondary to the Treadway’s commentary. There’s a fun shuffle to “3:45” as Pllush start to play with everything they can do between hooks, and they create a tension in their dynamic riffing. Though this is not the most straightforward and catchy track, there’s so many moments like their dreamy and grinding bridge, that you won’t really care.

Though it follows many of Pllush’s large sonic expansions “Restart” takes a much dreamier approach no matter what volume it’s currently boasting. When it hits its highs however, there’s a real majesty to the sound the band can manage. Even as an interlude, “Sleeper Cab” quickly becomes a standout moment of the album from its static-heavy tone and unique melodies. As short as it is, the bright energy of the piano is undeniably beautiful.

“Stuck To You” comes in with a bone to pick and the momentum to really say something about it. The guitars really burn bright on this track to take the song’s simple guitar runs into something ferocious and let the quickly expanding set of hooks really play around. As Pllush really commit to a softer sound on “Okay” they find an intimate and vulnerable energy that makes them emotionally powerful. Thanks to this, the subtle touches of effects they bring to colour their sound are quite exciting.

This same idea makes the denser blues of “Shannon” feel exciting and lively, as they bring out as much with aggression as they do with their subtle swath of distortion. It’s really the passionate vocal performance however that makes this one of the most heartbreaking listens of the whole record. “Blue Room” wraps things up in a very warm and final way. Though the pained tone of the vocals really brings the song’s emotional core forward, it’s the much subtler wave of sound behind everything that makes the  track hit home.

 

Words by Owen Maxwell