Friday, 21 May 2010


In life there are a number of unwritten rules, like toast falling jam side down. Another is that when a music collection grows to a certain point, there is an ‘event horizon’ effect where some parts of it drop off the radar, never to be seen again. Generally those items hidden behind the horizon comprise a whole bunch of only-played-once miscalculations and stuff that was OK at the time but has since palled. Often, it is a bit of a shock to rediscover lost albums that you had forgotten about. and the latest chapter in this continuing saga of ‘lost’ albums involves the self-titled debut from Elastica.

At the time of purchase in 1995, I was very excited by Elastica and thought this was the bees’ knees. It had energy, great spiky tunes and impeccable credibility. Fronted by Justine Frischmann, who at the time was in the midst of a Posh ‘n Becks style romance with Blur’s Damon Albarn, the band also comprised Justin Welch (drums), Annie Holland (Bass) and Donna Matthews (Guitar) and they were the darlings of the indie-press. The album sold exceedingly well – one of the best selling debuts ever - but then it all went wrong for Justine and crew and after a lack-lustre follow up four years later the band folded.

Listening to ‘Elastica’ now is a curiously disappointing experience. Although the energy and spikes remain, aside from a couple of tracks, the overall effect is one of datedness and not really knowing who they were. In fact the band suffered badly from accusations of plagiarism, initially from masters of the short sharp song, Wire and later from The Stranglers over the riff contained in ‘Waking Up’. Both claims were eventually settled but the damage was done. I’m surprised that New Order didn’t get in on the act over ‘Never Here’ which is very much in the style of something off ‘Technique’ but I think they were having their own crisis of confidence at the time and so let it pass.

The real problem with ‘Elastica’ is that the combination of Justine’s post punk sneer, twenty years too late, and the Britpop meets punk style rather puts the whole enterprise into a displaced time-loop from which it will never escape. And the further we distance ourselves in the time continuum, the worse it will sound.

I hear that Justine Frischmann is now a successful abstract artist. Good career change!  But I still like 'Waking Up'.


Jayne said...

This really neatly sums up Elastica. I liked 'Connection' (not sure what album that was on, presumably this one?), but around the same time as this I discovered Garbage (at least I think it was around then) and preferred Shirley Manson's take on the world!

musicobsessive said...

Hi Jayne. Yes 'Connection' is on this but I have to agree that Garbage was a much better outfit of about the same vintage. Shirley Manson remains one of my all time favourite singers and the rumours are that they may record again this year - yayy!