by Declan Murphy
Whether or not you were aware of Electric Guest’s 2012 debut album Mondo, you’d probably recognize its most iconic track: the fun pop-synth track “This Head I Hold”. The hit single is relatively indicative of the band’s other output. It’s light, enjoyable, and none too deep. Even more self-serious tracks like “American Daydream” came packaged with bubbly harmonies and persistent percussion. It was an album that didn’t take itself too seriously, and whether or not that pays off is up to you as a listener.
For me, the unabashedly upbeat and gleeful Mondo was a welcome release and dear to my heart. Taking its cues from Foster the People’s Torches and the similarly-digestible Matt and Kim, Mondo was easy listening and catchy enough to stay with you.
Five years later, this still rings true. The band’s late follow-up, titled Plural, is arguably less varied—and more consistent—than its predecessor. Gone are the mellow tracks a la “American Daydream”; Plural is bubblegum pop through-and-through. But here’s the thing: it’s good bubblegum pop! The vocals are solid and dreamlike, the drums come to the fore here even more so than on Mondo, and the end results are just as catchy as anything that’s come before. It’s a refreshingly consistent follow-up.
It’s a little odd to talk about highlights here when so much of the tracks bleed into one another, but there are certain standouts. The synths take on a sinister note in the clever “Oh Devil”, one of the album’s best. “Dear to Me” is sappy and sweet, backed by Electric Guest’s signature faded falsetto. And “Glorious Warrior”, comparatively subdued, starts the album off on solid footing. (The actual first track, “Zero”, however, fails on that front.)
There’s nothing on here that reaches the surreal and exhilarating highs of “This Head I Hold” or the even more frantic “Waves”, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had here. As someone who unironically dives into new Matt and Kim releases, I have no issues with hearing catchy new variations on a sound I already like. It’s funny that this album is called Plural, because (whatever the intention of singer-songwriter Asa Taccone) it definitely feels like a bit of a clone. Don’t be fooled, though: that’s not always a bad thing!