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I listened to this album last week for the first time in ages and it reconfirmed to me that Britpop wasn't just vacuous pretty boys in silly suits there was some great music, from Jarvis Cocker and Pulp, through the evolving music of Blur, to the energy of Supergrass and attitude of Oasis, while Elastica haven't maintained the careers of any of these bands, this album has stand out songs that are still heard regularly around the world, as was confirmed when their hit sons "connection" and "Stutter" both made the Top Ten in America.
Elastica is an effortlessly cool album referencing popular culture, and providing short perfectly formed pop songs which combine provide a 50 minute journey through post punk pop in an era of fashionable decadence.
With Justine Frischmann a former member of Suede on lead guitar and vocals we have a louche knowing lead who puts a sneer in her vocals at every opportunity but is more than happy to add smut, humour and social commentary to her songs.
The standout tracks on the album for me are:
Connection - This was a big song around the world and the massive throbbing guitars give it a real sense of power and theme, the vocals are laconic and perfectly fit the mood of the song.
Vaseline - A totally dirty song, incredibly short and too the point, but funky, fun and brilliantly created.
2:1 : Again a really short song with great guitars creating a pounding bass sound which allows the vocals to flit under the radar.
In many ways Elastica remind me of the Ting Tings or the Yeah Yeah Yeahs now with strong musical beats allowing catchy vocals to sneak up and hook you. This album is still excellent and hasn't aged at all, possibly because the songs are so short and snappy generally wading in at around 2 minutes long. I rate this an excellent 4 out of 5 album and one of the best British albums of the nineties for me, it does have substance to match its style.
Hold me Now
The album is available for download and a copy can be borrowed from your local library or bought on ebay for under £2.
As one of the classic 'Britpop' albums from 1995 (where has the time gone!?) I listened to this intensively a number of years ago and have just recently got it back out of the archives and started listening again, specifically on my journey to and from work.
In some ways it sounds a little dated now, being very much typical of the Britpop 'era' but the songs are still relevant and still very catchy! As someone who had my formative music years during the Britpop phase I have to admit I still like and listen to a lot of the releases from that time and fondly remember the Blur vs Oasis 'battle of the bands' as to whose single would reach number 1!
Thinking about the music specifically... Elastica have attracted some criticism for sounding derivative (some of the riffs are alleged to be strikingly similar to riffs in songs by other artists such as Wire) but taken at face value the album consists of 15 punk influenced Britpop tracks with almost no filler (the only song on the album I don't like is 'Indian Song' which is in a slightly different style and never really grabbed me for some reason - 15 (!) years on I still skip past it..). Many of the songs are quite short but are the perfect length for the style of music since it's 'short and sharp' rather than going on too much! The song 'Annie' is only 1 and a bit minutes though and left me wanting more of it.
A lot has been made in the media of the subsequent Elastica fall out and line up changes etc and this album as well as being their debut was also by far their best release overall.
This album from this band caused a lot of excitement on the indie scene when it appeared in 1995. It was a crossover success too spawning three Top Twenty UK hit singles with, "Line Up", "Connection", and, "Waking Up". Elastica were different in that they were mainly a girl group. Many better-known indie groups at the time were mostly male affairs. Anyway, this album is great for its rawness and its great guitar riffs. Justine Frischmann and Donna Matthews have the greatest talent together. The guitar work really MAKES the album something GREAT! Tracks like the opener, "Line Up", and, "Connection" are absolute guitar classics from start to end! This album is so good for the car, for Friday nights after the club, for parties or when you need a boost on a bad day. I didn't like it much at the time it was out but in the end the greatness of this album is something that was underrated. I guess they didn't have much success outside Britain - maybe they made it to the USA. Americans would really love this kind of music. Hey, you all would! Get it NOW!
The Indie scene of the mid-1990's spawned a whole host of British bands with attitude that didn't seem to be aping their American counterparts. Few of these bands carried a greater weight of expectation that the London quartet Elastica. Comprising of Justine Frischmann (lead vocalist and guitarist), Donna Matthews (backing vocalist and guitarist), Annie Holland (bass) and Justin Welch (drums), their eponymous debut was one of the most eagerly anticipated releases of 1995. Much of this hype had developed due to Frischmann's personal life. A former member of Suede and girlfriend of their lead singer Brett Anderson, she later became romantically involved with Blur's Damon Albarn. This sparked a bitter war of words between Anderson and Albarn, and the threesome were rarely out of the music news headlines at this time. After signing to Deceptive records, the album zoomed straight to the top of the charts, despite the fact that all the singles taken from it failed to reach to Top 10. The album's opener is 'Line Up', also their first big single hit when it came out in 1994. Characteristically short at just over 3 minutes, its intro is one of the most memorable of its time with its jangly guitar and what sounds like a man retching. With its catchy chorus and peculiar cardboard video, it gave the band commercial appeal, as well as the credibility that had already established previously. Track two is even shorter, checking in at just over the minute, and is a tribute to bandmember 'Annie', and is the only song I can remember that name-checks Holsten Export... This leads nicely into 'Connection', which is arguably their most popular and recognised track, thanks in no small part to Dom Joly using it as the theme music for 'Trigger Happy TV'. Although it's extremely raw in its production in that it almost sounds like a demo, it's extremely charming, especially with Frischmann's al
most effortless vocal. A big fan classic is 'Car Song', which although never released, holds up as one of their best songs. Perhaps sounding a little bit like fellow indie-darlings Sleeper, it has a gorgeous backing harmony to complement the classic guitar-pop riff. 'Smile' is perhaps a bit less obvious than some of the previous songs, but still has the same raw energy and is over almost as soon as its begun. 'Hold Me Now' is a slightly less frantic tune with Justine's lazy drawl taking centre-stage, although this doesn't really stand out from the other tracks. 'S.O.F.T.' is one of the longer tracks on the album in that it lasts over three minutes and is another hark-back to the naw-wave bands that Elastica were clearly influenced by. After the more sparse guitar-led track of 'Indian Song', we go straight into 'Blue', which launches into a punk frenzy after a mellow introduction. 'All-Nighter' sees the band another characteristically short song. Track 11 is their biggest commercial success, 'Waking Up'. Cheekily stealing a huge chunk of the Strangler's hit 'No More Heroes' it is another Britpop classic with its fiery guitars and slightly arrogant vocals. They were in trouble again with '2.1', as it appeared to be a rip-off of 'Being Sucked In Again' by Wire. Nonetheless, it is one of the album's highlights with another great riff although perhaps not quite the commercial impact of 'Waking Up' or 'Connection'. As the album draws to a close, we have one of the finest songs about petroleum jelly in 'Vaseline', before were are thrust into another new-wave flashback with 'Never Here'. The album's finishes with a bang with 'Stutter', which was their first release in 1993. Only 1500 of the limited-edition vinyl sets were released and are worth an absolute fortune now? An
other short power-packed song, it marks the end of a superb album. The album received rave reviews, although there are a few tracks in the middle which aren't quite up to the same standard as the rest. Many might find the shortness of the tracks a little frustrating, although I think that this is definitely a bonus. Unlike many bands who specialise in playing a minimum number of chorus in each track, Elastica manage to cut the songs before they get boring and self-indulgent, meaning that you get quality rather than quantity. Another criticism that has been placed on the band is that they are retrospective rather than progressive. However, I think that Justine Frischmann's charisma and unique singing voice means that Elastica take the early 1980's guitar-pop style in a new direction rather than merely ape it. Sadly, the band spiralled into arguments and drug addiction and their comeback album a few years ago was poorly received. After the split of her band and her relationship with Albarn ended, Frischmann has been out of the limelight for some time now. However, whilst it may have been the pressure on the band or maybe just the ideas drying up quicker than expected that caused the band to split, Elastica still managed to create a significant part of Britpop's history with this fine album.
Quite why anyone would recommend this album is beyond me. Not one decent track, with two chord songs, weak lyrics, basic drumming and bland choruses. Apart from the ripped-off 'Waking Up', the other singles provide a slight rise in the quality, but otherwise the song writing leaves very much to be desired. Stutter has two chords, and the structure rarely changes. Mostly formulaic three chord pop, trying to be punk, Elastica try to built there career on there 'NME' cred, and very little else. They are favours simply for the reason their single went out with that bloke from Blur. Awful
This album really captured an era. Girls with guitars, catchy indie tunes and functional lyrical content, all mainstays of the Britpop age. The album doesn't really stand up to close scrutiny now, but that doesn't really count against it, as it was meant to be listend to back then. As such, the insanely catchiness of Waking Up, Stutter and Connection, for example, still lives on, and indeed still grabs you. It would have been nice if the band left it there, but they didn't. Still, it was good while it lasted.
I love this album! Whether its the frantic pace that it rattles through it's 15 songs or the pure energy of each individual one, I don't know, but it rocks! Like every good album, there a few pop songs to get you into it, namely in the middle with allnighter (the wailing 'I'M SO HAPPY!' sticks in the mind for an age). After a time the rest of the album seems equally appealling and you have one of the most enjoyable, energetic and slightly twisted 35 minutes of your record collection.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Line Up
4 Car Song
6 Hold Me Now
10 All Nighter
11 Waking Up
12 Two To One
14 Never Here