A Plastic Rose Camera.Shutter.Life Review

Released 2012.  

BBC Review

Belfast band’s debut hints at greatness but too often falls short.

Mike Haydock 2012

Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody is a fan of A Plastic Rose. He tipped them in Q, then took them on tour. But you don’t really need telling: on this debut album, the Snow Patrol influence is writ large. The choruses are huge, the vocals are vulnerable and the song structures are straightforward.

A Plastic Rose are angrier than Snow Patrol, though, blending a big dose of post-grunge into their mix. The whole thing winds up somewhere between Bush and Twin Atlantic. Angsty pop-rock, slathered in distortion – that’s what we’re dealing with. Expect to mosh and sing along; don’t expect it to be a challenging listen.

A Plastic Rose are at their best when they push on that boundary of anger, when they snarl and threaten to bite. Foreign Soil and …AND THE SEA lurch close to Goo Goo Dolls territory, but then they kick in and scream and howl, and the aggression pricks the ears up. Boy Racer also starts off by sticking to the template, before unexpectedly breaking down into a frenzy of bruising Tool riffs.

Those are the key moments, the moments that make A Plastic Rose fun to listen to. But for every passage of bluster, there’s one of infuriating mediocrity.

Kids Don’t Behave Like This is a wearying plod, built on a lead guitar pattern that needs to be taken out and shot. Indian Sheets and Sun’s a Shadow are a pair of boring ballads – the latter, which closes the album, may well send you to sleep, even though drummer David Reid ends up thumping the hell out of his kit. Elsewhere, Gerry Norman opens Skin by singing the line “outside it is raining” seven times in a row. 

A Plastic Rose, you have to conclude, find fulfilment when searching for the killer pop hook, and they deliver plenty of them here. That will be enough for some people; judging by Snow Patrol’s success, that will be enough for a lot of people. But there’s a hint that Camera.Shutter.Life could have been so much more.

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