Bound For Takeoff in Business Class
By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 10, 2007 6:10PM
For a long time, local band Plane seemed terrified of any sort of classification. They moved from simple pop, to noise rock, to meandering sonic experimentation, and back. But while their albums seemed slightly fractured, their live sets always maintained a common thread, and often betrayed just where frontman Edgars Legzdins' head was at, at least for that evening.
On the flip side, we have Office, long headed by Scott Masson with a rotating cast of charachters providing the onstage presence for the band. Masson's previous two released discs are mined for material on the group's first "label" effort, A Night at the Ritz. Some of the songs are cleaned up, others are punched up, and one is slightly diminished, but against the current pop tapestry, all stand out like red on blue. The new album maintains the Office brand as one you can count on for excellent power pop with a new-wave sheen.
Plane seems to have settled on a similar, if slightly more inventive, path while succumbing to their love of early New Order to produce I See Love In the Future. The instruments are analog, but they feel slightly synthetic and compressed, lending the recording a forced timelessness that's endearing in its familiarity. There's also a certain audiophile's quality, as ghostly vocals float from one channel to the other, or a subdued snare suddenly comes to the fore only to recede just as quickly. Like Office, the group decides to revisit past recordings, deciding to rework long-time set-piece "I See Love In The Future" to pleasing results.
In Office's case, the re-recordings (and we suspect, simple re-inclusions) work alongside the new compositions to create the group's first masterwork. It's as if the previous album s were sketchbooks Masson was working out his ideas within, and this national bow is his first gallery show. The only weak spot -- and by weak we only mean in relation to Office's previous output -- is the new "Plus Minus Fairytale" since we prefer the more in-your-face approach the tune had on the group's The Ice Tea Boys And The Lemonade Girls album. But we're nitpicking.
Both bands seeme primed for the future, but if we had to lay odds, we'd say Office has the head start (not hurt at all by the relatively recent (within the timeline of the group's whole existence) inclusion of three talented young ladies that aren't terribly difficult on the eyes). Masson's songs are instant winners across the board, infused with that Midwestern workingman's pop, polished by a faux suit and tie sheen, and given a dancefloor ready spin. Plane has always been able to deliver similar results in concert, but I See Love In The Future is the first time they've been able to consistently make their case on record.
MP3: Plane "Blood On The Waves"
MP3: Office "The Ritz"
Plane (upper image) plays a fundraiser for The Chicago Independent Radio Project tonight at Double Door.
Office (lower image) plays a free show (RSVP required) tonight at Schubas.