Plenty – Life

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Plenty prove that the fundamentals of good songwriting are more important than gimmicks and change.

Artist: Plenty
Album: Life
Label: Headphone Music Label/ Faith Music Entertainment, Inc.
Year: 2016
Website: http://www.plenty-web.net/

As a songwriter, consistency can be a double-edged sword. You may always be good, but how do you keep people interested? At first blush there is not much to distinguish this Plenty album from those in the past. Plenty plays straightforward alternative guitar rock. Comfort music for people of a certain age. The songs are, for the most part light and breezy, led by the inimitable androgynous voice of singer Fumiya Enuma. But if “Life” is so much like what has come before, why keep paying attention?

The answer is that the band knows its songwriting. On “Life”, Plenty has made the vocal melodies the star of the show with instrumentation squarely in a supporting role. There is nothing superfluous, no stray note that might distract from the wondrous, soaring melodies.Take, “High and Low”, every individual section of the song is ludicrously catchy, from the droning vocals above a riff-based groove on the verses to the perfectly placed background vocals of its chorus. Or take another highlight, the retro-singalong “Laugh”. If you can walk away from “Laugh” without having its chorus in your head, you may need to have your ears examined. While some instrumental flourishes provide differentiation amongst the songs, such as the prominent fuzz bass on “Hitori No Toki No Tameni” the band doesn’t veer away from is alternative, vocal-led rock.

That being said, the album calls to mind the word “vanilla” being used as an insult. I get why people use it as an insult when things are safe, non-adventurous, or the artist isn’t pushing into new territory. However, using “vanilla” as an insult obscures a very important point: vanilla is downright delicious.

To extend the metaphor further, if you went to an ice cream shop because it makes world-class vanilla ice cream, you wouldn’t criticise the owner for failing to push the boundaries of ice cream making into new realms. There are other places for that. Likewise, if you’re looking for the heaviest, most experimental, furthest out-there music, Plenty is not your band. If you’re looking for world-class hook writing utilising tried and true instrumentation, give Plenty a shot.

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