REVIEW: Plastic Yellow Band – ‘Breathe Air’

plastic yellow band

Artist: Plastic Yellow Band
Album: Breathe Air
Genre: Rock, Classic Rock

Plastic Yellow Band is classic rock with some modern twists. If it weren’t for the updated production and maybe a select track or two, you likely wouldn’t be able to pick their debut album out of a musical lineup containing other progressive records from the ’60s and ’70s. Fronted by Gerry Jennings, Plastic Yellow Band has all the offerings of your favorite acts from the golden age of rock, with influences seemingly covering the spectrum from Fleetwood Mac to David Bowie to CSNY, touching on bits of everything in between.

Breathe Air opens with “Lonely Place,” inviting you in with a beautiful piano melody backing Jennings’ made-for-this-genre vocals before expanding into a full-on soft rock ballad that would surely have every lighter in the air in a live setting. “She’s My Woman” takes a very different approach that raises the energy level exponentially with bluesy guitar work and a much heavier tone that could have worked way back when just as easily as it does now with a resurgence of fuzz-rock within bands like The Black Keys and anything Jack White puts his name on. The transition from the album’s opener to its second track is already evidence enough of what this band brings to the table in versatility. If “Lonely Place” had you putting your lighter in the air, “She’s My Woman” will have you raising your glass with a loose smile on your slightly inebriated face.

I typically try to avoid doing track-by-track reviews, but every so often you get those albums that just beg for you to touch on each individual piece due to its complete flexibility. Breathe Air is very much one of those efforts. It has a little bit of everything for lovers of rock: acoustic-driven single material (“Nowhere”), highly experimental psych-rock (“Nervous Stuff”), gorgeous love song duet (“I Want To Feel Your Love”), epic multi-part art-rock jam that’ll make even the most die-hard and elitist Pink Floyd fan nod in approval (“Sunlight I,” “Sunlight II,” “Sunlight III”), and my personal favorite for taking me back and reminding me of simpler times as a child spending summer days outside with my music-loving family (“She Let It Down”).

As a debut, Breathe Air is wholly impressive. As a rock album in general, it’s impressive still. I’d be lying if I said it was wholly original as well, but when you’re forming a band and a sound in a genre that’s evolved over the course of several decades, I imagine it being nearly impossible to not be highly influenced by all the greats that have come before you. Gerry Jennings and his Plastic Yellow Band have been around for some time and have had taken advantage of the opportunity to use a beloved sound that they’re well familiar with and infuse it with modern elements to create a brand that can easily appeal to several generations. Are they the first to do it? Absolutely not. But they have done it well and with such a solid first release, I’m entirely on board for whatever may come next from this South Carolinian modern classic rock outfit.

SCORE: 8/10
Review written by Brian Lion — (Follow him on Twitter)

Brian Leak

Editor-In-Chief. King of forgetting drinks in the freezer. Pop culture pack rat. X-Phile. LOST apologist.
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