Remember local powerhouse Pardon My Striptease? They’re back — with a new name and a bigger pop sound.
Meet musical duo Dylan Weightman and Brendan Woodroff, better known as Plans & Disguises, whose self-titled, premiere full-length album dropped March 15.
The new name marks some big changes and a new sound: less grunge and less distortion makes for a cleaner, more decisive move towards the pop genre. (They’re eager to brand themselves as “disco/grunge,” but if it walks like pop and sounds like pop, it might be better to call it pop.)
But perhaps the best description of this new sound is typical early-2000s rock. After all, this album somehow manages to embody both the best and worst of Matchbox 20-era pop hits: catchy hooks, passion bordering suspiciously on angst, a decent dose of cliché metaphors, insistently infectious drums. If you’ve got a thing for turn-of-the-millennium alternative rock (think Our Lady Peace, Matchbox 20, or Goo Goo Dolls), then Plans & Disguises is the local band for you.
The album has a couple tracks you won’t want to miss: “Ask” swims in cliché waters by bringing in keyboard and punctuating handclapping, but impressively brings it together into something cohesive and catchy. “Sunrise” is the clear hit of the album, featuring vocals from former Pardon My Striptease lead singer Andrew Christopher and marking one of the rock-ier tracks of the album in sound and temperament. It’s a catchy call-to-arms, and the only song on the album with the edgy accreditation of an “explicit” tag.
But there are also a few tracks worthy of a hard pass: “Make This Real” features the eager vocals of Danielle Marie, but suffers a setback in its problematic lyrics. “If I had more time, I’d find somebody else,” she croons. “But I can’t waste mine spending it by myself… who’s going to pick me up this time? Am I ever going to be okay? Stay with me. Make this real.” Come on, Danielle! You’re a strong, independent individual! You don’t need anyone else to make you complete!
Then again, weak lyrics seem to be the album’s Achilles’ heel overall. While the album’s sound is catchy enough to make itself into an earworm, the lyrics don’t hold up. Take the opening line of “Believe,” for example: “It’s done. Get away, you told me, turned and then walked away. So I begged you to stay — for reasons I don’t believe anyway.” Sometimes clichés work for a reason, but sometimes they’re just clichés. (“Believe” is unfortunately an example of the latter.)
Plans & Disguises is a strong premiere tempered with nostalgia for the band’s roots. Their lyrics fall down in places, but that’s hardly new for pop music — all in all, this album is catchy as hell.