Plush released their self-titled fourth album a year ago, but have only recently embarked on a countrywide tour to promote it, hitting up gigs in Joburg and Pretoria. And while they have great stage presence and hearing old favourites is enjoyable enough, you can’t help but get the feeling they shouldn’t have bothered. Plush is not a great album.

The band has been around for 12 years, and has made some good music in that time, but it is obvious that they are unhappy with the amount of commercial success they have had, and this album is squarely aimed at satisfying market needs. Plush have an agenda here, and it isn’t to make great music – it’s to sell music.

This means that most of the tracks are moulded along generic pop-rock formulas, uninspired and unoriginal. But it doesn’t mean that Plush doesn’t have something to offer.  “Dancing in a Storm” is unbelievably catchy and melodic, with a chorus that will, no matter how hard you fight it, get stuck in your head. It is radio-friendly in the best possible way. And there are moments on the album (when the band forgets about their commercial ambitions for a few minutes) that abandon generic pop clichés, and instead focus on the actual music, offering up a few gems. “Carousel” is slow and sweet and sincere and “Always Awake” is big and dark, reminiscent of Kings of Leon in their Only by the Night phase: a reminder of the talent and experience which Plush can bring to the table.

But these moments don’t last long. The rest of the tracks just kind of melt into one giant pop-rock song, perfect for background music on a Sunday afternoon, when you couldn’t actually care about what was playing.

Carl Wegelin has a good voice, with a good tone: by turns gruff and sexy, smooth and powerful, and the rest of the band are clearly skilled. But Plush isn’t as inventive as Wrestlerish or as edgy as Taxi Violence, as good as aKING or as quirky as Desmond and the Tutus. This album is making a bid for pop-rock perfection, but lacks the emotional muscle, lyrical prowess or musical edge to transcend its smooth production and catchy melodies. It gets bogged down in its own desire to be saleable, to the detriment of the quality of the actual songs. It’s good(ish), but ultimately forgettable.

View the “Dancing in a Storm” music video below or @Perdeby7411h.




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