New York Howl
Thrilling, Dark Electro-Pop Gems
“It started with a suitcase left on a sidewalk…” goes the tagline for the debut album by the six-piece, New York based band London Plane. Inside the suitcase was the diary of a woman named Francis, left by the curb to be discarded with the trash. The first entry reads “So I made it to New York,” dated June 12, 1975, and David Mosey, London Plane’s primary songwriter, uses that as the launching pad which inspires this collection of fine, dark, synth-pop gems. Voiced by Cici James, who becomes the vocal embodiment of Francis’ written dreams, thoughts, regrets, and desires, these songs have a thrilling urgency and sonic impact so rarely felt these days. Gothic pop hasn’t been this airy and free and dark and dreamy in ages. If you ever listened to the Cure, Human League, Echo and the Bunnymen, or Siouxsie and the Banshees on a late night drive or alone in your room with the headphones on, this music will make you feel right at home. But mostly London Plane reminds me of that other female-fronted New York band, Blondie, with their fearlessness and the way they bring the singular energy of New York to their music in creative ways. The bass is relentless, the drums full of pounding toms and glass-like snare hits, the guitars suitably soaked in reverb, the synths smart and dreamy. This is updated ’80s pop, vitally new, and seething for a fresh century—saturated, atmospheric, breathing with life, a syncopated heartbeat for our times.
“I never believed in you before, but I’m never leaving you now,” Cici—as Francis—sings on the title track which, along with its subway guitars and pounding drums, feel just like going to New York for the first time, getting caught up in the city’s energy and the vital spirit that embodies it. A perfect love song for the urban jungle that is New York. (The first time I visited New York I didn’t sleep for nine days, just wandered around checking out EVERYTHING I could. It can have that kind of effect on people.)
On “The Farther Down We Go” and several other songs, we learn of Francis’ hopes and dreams, her fears and wants, her daily struggles, her need to feel safe and wanted and loved in a city that can be tough even in the best of times.
For a band to undertake a concept album as their debut is undeniably brave. For them to do such a grand job of bringing this piece of found art to life is undeniably incredible. This is an impressive debut album from a band worth spending some time with.
Review by Roy Peak.
Released August 25th 2018