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Plastic Operator - Different Places

Plastic Operator, Different Places

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

YOU may not have heard of Plastic Operator but you might well know them. Their much-praised single Folder was a favourite on Rob Da Bank’s Sunday Best label last year and was subsequently picked up for use on a Coca Cola advert as well as on numerous films.

It perfectly encapsulates the quirky but endearing sound of the duo who sit somewhere between the pop sensibilities of the Pet Shop Boys and Erasure and the more leftfield likes of Boards of Canada and Daft Punk.

The track is one of the most playful, bouncy tracks you’re likely to hear, as fizzy as the Coca Cola it helped to promote and similarly as sugar coated. The beats scream out cheesy European dance but the keyboards and swirling atmospherics combine well with the kitsch vocals to create a genuine guilty pleasure. Come the strings towards the end, you’ll be totally won over.

It’s a winning formula that’s repeated on Peppermint, a giddy head rush of quirky breakbeats and lush guitar loops that eventually unfold into a strangely hypnotic experience. And on Home 0207, a track that features some nice layering and some well-judged background vocals from Tara Thompson, as well as some nice violin and viola from Barbara Peynsaert.

Parasols is another fun effort that draws on the vocals of Sarah Ferri to soothing effect. It’s still a vibrant, cheeky little dance number but Ferri’s presence makes a nice break from those of Pieter Van Dessel, who tends to sound a little repetitive at times.

Indeed, that’s what prevents Plastic Operator’s album making a bigger impression. Once you’ve bought into their quirky soundscapes, the album runs out of steam after the halfway point. Tracks begin to sound the same and efforts like Why Don’t You and Singing All The Time fail to register as markedly as Peppermint or Folder.

That said, Plastic Operator are still a worthwhile addition to the electro-pop genre and Different Places is well intentioned and endearing enough to be worth checking out if you like things a little bit kitsch and a little bit different.

Editor’s note: For the record, the PO boys are Mathieu Gendreau and Van Dessel, who first met at London’s Wesminster University in 2001 while studying audio production. Both loved electro pop music, so decided to combine their talents.

Download picks: Parasols, Home 0207, Folder, Peppermint

Track listing:

  1. The Pleasure Is Mine
  2. Peppermint
  3. Folder
  4. Couch
  5. Home 0207
  6. Parasols
  7. Special Case
  8. Another Sound
  9. Why Don’t You?
  10. Singing All The Time
  11. The Long Run