Delving into the broad world of ‘indie’ music that exists out there, I have found it can sometimes be a chore to find a band that has either developed a sound that makes them stand out from the pack or produces consistently intriguing music that keeps listeners engaged. That being said, amongst a wide variety of bands that exist within this rather broadly defined label, there are many artists out there who have found themselves letting go of musical convention, experimenting with an awry of genre-bending aesthetics, and gaining a niche following in the process. Plastic Mermaids certainly fits this bill. Formed on the Isle of White, Plastic Mermaids began experimenting with a handful of styles such as psychedelic rock, dreampop, electronica, and lo-fi in an effort to create emotional and catchy songs that form an intimate bond between the artist and listener. With a handful of EPs as well as the band’s 2019 debut album Suddenly Everyone Explodes, Plastic Mermaids continue to test out new musical boundaries with their second full length release It’s Not Comfortable to Grow.
Created through a vibe of psyched-out dreamy sequences, there is an instant feel of informality and warmth attached to many of the first few songs on this record, which gives a vivid feeling of the intimacy in how these songs were recorded. The bedroom pop feel has a beautiful touch that invites us in before introducing us to a handful of new musical characteristics – the catchiness of the album’s initial single, for example. “Disposable Love” immerses itself in this warm, fuzzy atmosphere that creates a sensation of comfort. The opening title track, on the other hand, offers several unconventional musical elements such as the dreary unison vocal tapings that suggest as sense of disillusionment, and the organic synths that get lost in the warped voicings of instrumentation, transporting us further into this mythical sonic soundscape.
Whilst certainly, this record offers a wide range of variety, there are moments that stick to this ballad-like structure that initially sits comfortably with the listener before creating a much more alluring, blurry sonic territory. “Environmental” for example consists of these laid-back and soothing structures that become flipped by the wild electronics and orchestral crescendos. Similarly, “It’s Pretty Bad” is a more conventionally structured ballad type of song that conveys the record’s more emotive side, along with latter tracks “Marbles Pt. 1 and 2”, which are instilled to offer a glimpse into the bittersweet and nostalgic sentiments of the artist that bear a sense of hopeless longing and lost joy.
Other tracks on this record expand on the band’s experimental palette, interweaving between psychedelic rock jams, upbeat rhythmically smooth choruses, and airs of electronic folk melodies. “Disco Wings” contains many of these elements whilst still maintaining some sense of structural consistency, but “Girl Boy Girl” goes all out on the weirdness and the wonderfully sublime. The final tracks to finish this record, “Epsom Salts” and “Elastic Time”, adhere to this bright, transcendent mood that invites us to lie back and contemplate ourselves, restructuring time through the guise of old memories, longing to go back.
The underappreciated skill and musicianship that Plastic Mermaids possess is one thing, but to come out of an entire pool of ‘alternative’ and ‘independent’ labelled artists that fall under the trap of playing conventionally tied music and underexplored song structures and create something unique, comforting, special is what makes this band so impressive. I enjoyed this record in many ways I never would have expected. With their experimentation on various assorted genres from the electronic, psychedelic, bedroom indie, and dream pop vibes, this is a band that deserves just as much recognition as many of the more typically defined and globally renowned indie psych bands out there right now.