Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the New Jersey five piece art rock band: Their Planes Will Block Out The Sun. Now when most people think music from New Jersey, the bands that come to mind are Bon Jovi, The Misfits, and My Chemical Romance. Their Planes does not follow in the footsteps of those bands. Instead, they draw their influences from bands such as Radiohead, The Smiths, and Joy Division. The idea of a New Jersey art rock band is similar to the idea of Ke$ha trying to make a punk rock album: it just does not fit. So does the concept of a New Jersey art rock band work with Their Planes Will Block Out The Sun? Let us take a look at what their debut LP White Dancer offers to their credibility.
White Dancer opens up with the sounds of clapping, drums, and a simple guitar riff that start off the song “Boardwalk Splinters”. The song itself lacks the proper substance to open up an album. It recycles the opening material until the song’s climax breaks up the tiresome material. “Boardwalk Splinters” fills the listener with some rather intense flowery language including “don’t you lecture me, even wounded birds can float”. While ornate lyrics are nice and serve as a measure of a lyricist’s intelligence, the important thing that lacks in “Boardwalk Splinters” is the connection of the lyrics in a manner that projects a story or message. “Boardwalk Splinters” stands a something rather pretentiousness with its rather simplified music content and overly complex lyrics. It’s like trying to drive a car past its maximum speed; You just end up destroying the vehicle in the process.
That being said, despite the opening song, the rest of the album turns out to be a pleasant surprise. Their Planes tries to emulate the essence of the human soul and manage to do this in a rather original and refreshing manner. Take for example the track “Teflon Kids”. The feel of this song speaks indie pop but the lyrical intensity at times projects and sells itself as emo rock (and no, not like how some consider Fall Out Boy to be emo). The song details going out and living life despite whether you will succeed or fail at it. Some of my favorite lyrics of this track are actually the opening lyrics : “my cause? You got me, don’t know what it is man. In my heart it’s just there”. I believe these lyrics rival the lyrics of “Some Nights” by fun.: “What do I stand for? Most nights I don’t know anymore”. I enjoy how Their Planes uses “Teflon Kids” to approach the concept of not being sure of what one stands for anymore. Instead of just lying there confused, the song inspires the listener to be content with not knowing what they strive for and to just fight the good fight.
White Dancer closes with the rather explosive track (pun fully intended) “How I Learned To Love The Bomb”. The song begins with just a piano and vocals. Then, true to the nature of the title, it explodes with sound around the last fourth of the track. “How I Learned…” makes me imagine a post-apocalyptic world where the nuclear war just did its damage to the world. The song’s message incarnates and reveals the tone of modern day fears. The opening lyrics turn out to be the most haunting set of lyrics I have heard in recent memory: “a safe place to sleep we ask to lay our bones”. It is the eerie and meaningful way the words are sung that makes the listener just develop some anxiety. As a closer to White Dancer, “How I Learned…” does a fantastic job in drawing a close to a rather great album.
All in all, White Dancer exhibits some great material coming from an art rock band that makes its home in New Jersey. Coming into the album, I expected to hear a rather okay album coming from an upcoming indie rock band. Instead, I got a stellar album that draws inspiration from the musical veins of great bands like Radiohead. With their forthcoming album Brasil coming out soon, I eagerly await to see what Their Planes Will Block Out The Sun will deliver to my ear holes in the upcoming future.
Listen to: Teflon Kids, How I Learned To Love The Bomb, and The Floor, The Dead, The Escape
Skip: Boardwalk Splinters