album: Stranger to the Pain - Pllush
On the third single of the excellent Stranger to the Pain, Pllush turns an ordinary day into a gorgeous array of thick, starry noise pop. Against a guttural, chugging guitar line and vocals that transition from conversational to singing, Pllush runs through a day that includes quitting jobs and New Year’s reflections, and it’s completely glorious.
Admittedly, this third song on the album has become a fixture of my playlists, and is one single I’ve returned to again and again, but as a whole, Stranger to the Pain demands to be heard from start to finish. The 90s might be over, and there are few, if any teenage romantic comedies that would call for a band to play during the big dance, but Pllush is the modern-day answer to pop culture’s previous inclusion of riotous meets romantic bands that made an appearance at the most normal of teenage events.
It all begins with “Elliot,” a track centered on the aftermath of a now concluded relationship. Although the single barely reaches the two minute marker, its honeyed introduction, which swirls into an unexpectedly turbulent rise of instrumentals, directs you towards what awaits you on the album next. On “Big Train” you’re initially engulfed in ringing feedback, but when heartbreakingly delicate vocals cry out, “Who’s gonna love me more/ When I’m crying in the middle of the night,” against the backing of agitated instrumentals, you can’t help but find an emotional peace among that anguish. And whether you allow yourself to be carried along with the dreamy, saccharine shoegaze of “3:45” or you prefer to bop along to the instantly catchy “Stuck To You,” Stranger to the Pain is gleaming in an undeniable magic that pulls you in, and never lets go.