Planes Mistaken For Stars – ‘Prey’

By Glen Bushell

For 10 years Planes Mistaken For Stars were one of the most inventive, and important bands in alternative music. Despite never quite managing to reach the dizzying heights of some of their contemporaries, they were a phenomenon to those in the know. After starting life as an emotionally charged rock band, they shape shifted into a metallic sludge force before calling it a day in 2008. Even though they have sporadically played shows over the last few years, the idea of new music from them seemed like a pipe dream, until now.

Surprising everyone with their new album, ‘Prey’, Planes Mistaken For Stars have picked up right where they left off with their 2006 LP, ‘Mercy’. While not as down-tuned and focused on low-end chaos as it’s predecessor, ‘Prey’ retains all the dirt and grit of what makes Planes Mistaken For Stars the band they are. Whether it’s the bombastic opening track, ‘Dementia America’, or the gravel-laced battle cry of ‘Riot Season’, it signals a textbook return.

Vocalist Gared O’Donell sounds as powerful as ever with his unique, whiskey-laced drawl that carries the punk ‘n’ roll drive of ‘Fucking Tenderness’ and ‘She Who Steps’. Musically they hark back to the more melodious element of their formative years, while retaining the piss and vinegar attitude that came with age during the growth of Planes Mistaken For Stars.

For the most part, the band have created a Frankenstein’s monster of their previous output and fired up the chargers to create ‘Prey’. There is still plenty of dissonance, particularly in the slower, brooding track, ‘Clean Up Mean’, which sits perfectly alongside the haunting, acoustic-led ballad, ‘Black Rabbit’. It’s a far more vulnerable side to Planes Mistaken For Stars, but it is yet another notch in the diverse pallet they possess.

As always, the composition is strategically disjointed to create a dark, twisted atmosphere. Inspired by O’Donell’s isolation, and subsequent disdain at his surroundings during the writing of ‘Prey’, it is poured into the mood of the album. The candle of ‘Enemy Blinds’ slowly burns before exploding at its finish. It bleeds into ‘Alabaster Cello’, carried by the wailing drums of Mike ‘Mongo’ Ricketts until they can take no more underneath an erratic hail of noise.

While Planes Mistaken For Stars didn’t need to make an album to please anyone, ‘Prey’ feels like the exorcism of 10 years worth of demons that were building up during their time away. They chose to rid themselves of the darkness inside in the only way Planes Mistaken For Stars know: plug in, turn up loud, and raise as much hell as possible.

GLEN BUSHELL

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