Plastic Picnic take on modern society’s over-curated lifestyle with a John Hughes philosophy and synthesizers on their debut ‘Plastic Picnic EP’.
Brooklyn quartet, Plastic Picnic have often been described as an “indie post rock project soundtracking a John Hughes movie.” Their sound pulls influences from the retro era with a charming orchestra of analog synths running through just about every track. Today, Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering Plastic Picnic’s eponymous debut EP, out today, 10/20/2017 via Highland Park Records (the new singles label from Roll Call Records).
Listen: Plastic Picnic [EP] – Plastic Picnic
The four track EP is a smooth blend of life in New York and the picturesque, idyllic world captured in eighties’ Hughes films. Plastic Picnic strive to present the stark contrast between the idyllic and the reality, while also preaching the appreciation of the ordinary life. This concept was inspired by the overwhelming powers of social media, and our obsession with the “over-curated lifestyle.” Plastic Picnic is a sophisticated mirroring of modern society, coupled with a feat of retro, synth arrangements to complete that longing nostalgia for simpler times.
In terms of theme, the EP could be divided into two different parts; the reality of New York versus the coming-of-age and idyllic John Hughes’ America. “Miss It Still” is a classic coming-of-age track. Initially inspired by the loss of someone close to you, the track goes on to explore the loss of one’s identity and innocence. Plastic Picnic comment on the inspiration for “Miss it Still”:
“Any place can change someone’s identity, but I think that can happen quickly in NYC.”
In this opening track, we can already see the introduction of the EPs two, core-themes; the search for identity and New York City. The synth strikes the album to life like a match, setting it alight before the artificial drums set the boisterous pace of change. Plastic Picnic’s particular arrangements and merging of guitar-led verse and synth-heavy chorus aid them in their modern adaptation of the eighties’ soundtrack.
On the other end of the spectrum, tracks like “Berkeley” and “Bite” take on the city of New York in a sonic-heavy insight into the darker reality. Plastic Picnic immerse themselves in the New York nightlife in their track “Bite,” capturing the elusive, anonymity of the city and the ability to lose one’s identity in the hustle. Haunting melodies and lyrical imagery are the two striking characteristics of this track:
“Every dog’s a sweetheart until your children feel it’s bite.”
“Bite” is a far cry from the lively optimism featured in the opening track. Despite similar themes, the slightly altered arrangement make for a completely different tone and interpretation of the track.
“Berkeley,” much like the title suggests, is another homage to the city and its many distractions. Unlike “Bite,” this track tackles the brighter sides of the city; the sights and lights of NYC as Plastic Picnic follow a young, romantic protagonist through the dating scene.
“We ask a lot of questions about commitment in a society becoming so obsessed with instant gratification, following this young socialite as the protagonist.”
Watch: “Berkeley” (directed+filmed by Otium)
There’s an overall sense of acceptance throughout “Berkeley,” an acceptance of fear and its values, its ability to open up new avenues for those who seek them. Plastic Picnic make a point of showcasing the stark juxtaposition between the emotionless nightlife and their own jubilant synth arrangements. While there’s fear and commitment in just about every walk of life, their values can be exposed through the wonders of a good soundtrack, creating yet another false perception of reality, or a filter. For Plastic Picnic, their catchy hooks and harmonies are the filters, disguising the demise of their protagonist.
“The EP explores the filters we rely on to sift through sensationalism.”
Last, but not least, “Nausea In Paradise” is the grand finale to the EP, expertly merging the two themes for the final anthem. “Nausea In Paradise” condemns the temporary highs of false paradises (whether that be a basement club at 4am or a sun vacation). It preaches the appreciation of the little, everyday things, or the beauty of the mundane.
“It’s that simple, little feeling of a sterile kind of life.”
The percussion-soak concoction of rhythm and synth perfectly captured the adrenaline of the moment as Plastic Picnic rush to conclusion before one final, emotional breakdown. All sound drops save the steady drumbeat and haunting vocals, creating the perfect environment for reflection after the enlightenment that was Plastic Picnic.
Those in the New York area can catch Plastic Picnic at their release show tomorrow night, 10/21 at Berlin in NYC. Experience the full record via our exclusive stream, and peek inside Plastic Picnic’s Plastic Picnic EP with Atwood Magazine as the band provide their personal take on the music and lyrics of their debut!
Listen: Plastic Picnic [EP] – Plastic Picnic
:: Inside Plastic Picnic EP ::
The EP has an overarching theme of searching for sincerity amongst an over-curated lifestyle. Social media definitely plays a huge role in people’s (especially the youth) current evaluation of self worth. The EP explores the filter’s we rely on to sift through sensationalism — all inspired by personal experiences the band has encountered since our move to New York City.
Miss It Still
Miss it Still is about loss. Inspired by physical loss, the song’s initial meaning was just that–the loss of someone dear to you. However, the track grew into a larger statement about loss of identity/innocence. Any place can change someone’s identity, but I think that can happen quickly in NYC. Miss it Still explores witnessing someone dear to you’s loss of innocence into what you may think is an insincere version of their former self.
Tilden is a friend’s advice song. Everyone has that friend that loves to say I told you so after a poor outcome. Tilden owns up to that friend, acknowledging the consequences of lacking trust in the loved ones surrounding you. Sonically this track aligned itself more with Nausea as far as being a more guitar forward mix. As a band, we adore juxtaposition and felt this was a nice guitar addition amidst the more synth heavy tracks of the EP.
Berkeley is sonically the brightest track on the EP. While following the demise of a young romantic, we wanted to capture the feeling of the protagonist strutting through New York nightlife — I think the hook brings the listener to that place. We ask a lot of questions about commitment in a society becoming so obsessed with instant gratification, following this young socialite as the protagonist. As the verse’s show the protagonist’s loss of faith in the emotionless dating arena, the chorus’s response encourages — with time, youth and the importance of recognizing how healthy fear can be.
Bite dove into the darker side of New York City night life that aligned with the darker sonic feeling of the song. I feel that in large cities it’s easy for people to get lost in the anonymity, slipping into different personas to curate their social aspirations — something social media has made us all more guilty of than ever. After living in NYC for three years, I now feel surrounded by good people — people who leave their masks off — Bite is about the not-so sincere creatures of the night I met along the way.
Nausea in Paradise
Reflective of the title, Nausea is about the false contentment in any “paradise”. Vacation can’t last forever, whether that vacation is a basement club at 4am or a tropical trip with your fiance — the less glamorous realities of life hold more value. The “bliss” in your day to day life come’s because of it’s juxtaposition with the very shitty parts of life–like loss, heartbreak and our president. With social media encouraging this *beautiful lifestyle* more and more people seem so lost in this endless search for curated perfection, when that curation isn’t representative of anything real. “It keeps you warm, as you fall into another lie, that keeps you wrong. Nausea in Paradise”.
Our dear friend and talented producer from Seattle Sean (soffos) was kind enough to remix miss it Still, extending its melody into a more tropical dance realm that turned the track toward a more positive light we enjoyed.
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photo © Tim Seguin