Plaid

Polymer

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AllMusic Review by

Plaid's tenth studio album is inspired by environmental concerns, as well as humanity's relationship with synthetic objects and how they affect the planet. Similar to many of Plaid's past albums, the duo weave acoustic instrumentation throughout their tricky compositions, fusing machine precision with warmth, humanity, and wonder. As with 2016's The Digging Remedy, Polymer is a bit darker than usual for Plaid, reflecting the album's eco-conscious themes, but it's still playful and spirited, if more mature-sounding than their earlier work. That said, the album also contains some of their most danceable material in ages. Opener "Meds Fade" features fizzling, aggressive synth textures over a steady, striding electro thump out of the Ed Banger school. The clanging rhythms of "Maru" sound like a warped variation on the sound of experimental club labels like Timedance, yet the serene organ pads and twinkling melodies add a gentle touch. "Drowned Sea" sounds more like a lab experiment, with a post-industrial rhythmic pattern ricocheting back and forth, yet the atmosphere is completely transformed with the addition of twinkling melodies near the track's end. "The Pale Moth" incorporates acoustic guitar pluckings and intricate horn arrangements, and an echoing noise which nearly sounds like a dog barking. The giddy "Dancers" spirals upward towards a sort of euphoria, while the violent, disruptive "Recall" signals systematic malfunction. "Crown Shy" manages to work some rollicking accordion into its stuttering beats and hopeful melodies, and "Praze" ends the album with a gentle, pastoral frolic. Polymer is one of Plaid's most successful hybrids of organic and artificial sounds, matching its ambitious themes and concepts with enlightening music.

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