Plum Green – Sound Recordings (independent) Album REVIEW
GARY STEEL tries hard to find promise in expat Kiwi Plum Green’s dark Melbourne post-grunge.
Plum Green is a singer-songwriter who was raised in New Zealand and now lives in Melbourne, where she made Sound Recordings, her second album. It includes a cover of PJ Harvey’s ‘Fountain’ that’s somewhat indicative of where she’s coming from, although her alt-rock is generously sprinkled with heavy, overdriven guitars and the kind of dramatic verse-chorus structures first trademarked by Pixies and The Breeders and taken to a darker place by the so-called grunge groups of the early ‘90s.
‘Fountain’ is, accordingly, much heavier and shrouded in Goth atmospherics than Polly Harvey’s, which harks back to the atonal post-punk squawk of early Siouxsie & the Banshees. It’s in keeping with Green’s own material, which is unfailingly pessimistic and angry.
The problem is that in the six years between her first album, Rushes, and Sound Recordings, there has been little progress or improvement. (See my review of Plum Green’s Rushes here.) The album is named after the analogue studio it was recorded in Castlemaine, but there’s nothing special about its sound, and Plum’s voice is disappointingly low in the mix, which deprives it of the authority it needs to cut through the guitar grind and the opportunity for listeners to catch the lyrics.
The last song on this short, seven-track album, ‘Kind Beast’, hints at a possible development into an artist with a bit more light and shade and it’s a relief to hear her voice – in ‘soft’ mode – cut through the bed of gentle guitar, bass, percussion and what sounds like a Mellotron but I presume to be processed cello.
‘Baby Bird’, on the other hand, is an unpromising start, with the kind of dull strum you hear coming out of thousands of amateur band practice rooms and a verse that’s utterly unremarkable.
With titles like ‘Funeral Song’ and ‘Cannibal’ and ‘I Hope You Die’ it’s clear that Plum Green enjoys exploring the darkness on the edge of town, but while I found myself wanting to find signs of originality, the rather leaden performances vanquished any sense of promise.
And yet… there’s something about her. Artistic vision is often only given flight by the right kind of collaborators, and perhaps Plum just hasn’t found her enablers.
* Plum Green’s Sound Recordings is available from Bandcamp.