Information Overload (Dew Process/Universal)
WAIT, THEY’RE WHAT NOW? Yes, PLANET sound so much like an English band - specifically a band from the red rose triangle of Manchester/Wigan/Liverpool - in guitar sound, vocal tone, rhythm and a through line of just-enough-damp-to-keep-everyone-in-doors-except-for-the-three-days-of-summer, that they could really only come from … Sydney.
Taking their cues from the land of queues, Matty Took (singing/guitaring), Jimmy Weaver (bassing), Harry Stewart-Weeks (drumming) and Tom Peppitt (guitaring) may have only existed as this band for seven years, and recorded a bunch of EPs and singles in Redfern, but they have a sense of musical history going back to the wild and woolly distant, if not positively ancient, past of the 1990s and early 2000s.
While Took is the younger brother of Johnny Took of DMA’s, or as I’ve taken to calling them, The Australian Oasis Show, PLANET (yes, they ask to be all caps. Kids today ...) aren’t so narrowcast. Which is to say, the road signs are visible, and Took The Younger can do the Liam whine when he puts his mind to it, but on this debut album the destinations aren’t so route 1.
Across a dozen tracks PLANET take turns, moving from a semi-dreamy/semi wide-eyed pop psychedelia that chimes out of Merseyside bands like The Coral (see: Resign and Lost My Honesty) to that city’s more clearly pop leaning types, like Shack & Lightning Seeds (see: Ship Won’t Change, the title track, and Pulse), from plangent balladry turning powerful, of the kind that marked Wigan’s The Verve (see: Hard To Come By and Always Something) to the elongated Beatles moves of the aforementioned Manchester brothers (see: Aching Dream and You, Just A Little More).
And then, as well as some almost classicist, sometimes even danceable, pop rock ala The Wirral’s The Rascals (see: Need More and One To Keep You), there’s a loving nod to a Mancunian legend, Johnny Marr (see: Northern Skyline).
So, the influences aren’t so much worn on the sleeve as stitched into every panel on their shirts. How much does that matter? Well, for a start, in their fanbase, who in their right mind, would necessarily pick apart those seams when they could just sing along? But more widely, the reason PLANET’s devotions aren’t fatal is two-fold.
Firstly, there’s an energy, a constantly rippling enthusiasm (irrespective of the lyrical direction it’s worth noting) that propels the best of these songs. Resign’s chorus throws its arms in the air and turns its face to the sky (not the sun; we’re oop north after all); Ship Won’t Change has an inward-facing tenor but its stoicism doesn’t feel like it’s only clinging on; Need More spirals away from its fuzzed core until bucket-hat dancing is inevitable; and Lost My Honesty springs out of the gate, first song in, like someone freed from week-long lockdown.
The second reason is simply that many of the songs, as familiar as they feel, still sound like proper tunes, proper riffs, proper hooks. Pulse is pretty without losing its darker drive, when Hard To Come By builds itself up, each step feels natural and the buoyancy you feel in its final minute is real, and One To Keep You keeps its shape as a swirling atmospheric ballad, with Peppitt going out of region to bring some Bernard Butler fanging to a guitar part equal portions background as foreground.
They can do this, and they can (mostly) shut down old whingers. Next step: removing, or at least hiding better, those reference points.