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Plavu
Plavu
Life Instructions Enclosed
Chupa

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Any band that includes a piece of Dubble Bubble with their CD is okay by me. And if their music is actually good, well, heck, that's even better!

This Berkeley-based quintet (bass, 2 x gtrs, samplers, drums, 2 x vocals) calls their music "space fuzz melodika". I call it post-Garbage electrono-rock. Their sound is pretty varied, which makes for good listening, but also makes it hard to describe. As usual, it's really the voices involved that end up tying everything together, and Plavu is fortunate enough to have two enchanting singers at their disposal.

Alzara Getz does the girl side of things with the sort of semi-wacky, bad-assed attitude that makes knees of all genders go a little wobbly. She also has a sweet side that keeps her harder performances from becoming a parody of an angry Canadian teenager.

While I'm usually a total sucker for the whole girl singer + electronics thing, it's Alex Ionov's fuzzy boy vocals that really get me going. Although His faux-British accent sometimes makes him sound like (Saturday Night Live character) Simon doing "drawrings" in the bath, his coy, witty lyrics and goofy sense of theatrics make many of these songs irresistible.

"In The Movies" makes me think of an INXS dance remix, with Ionov's slightly overdone vocals substituting for Mr. Hutchence's suave posturing. "Unrealiable" finds the band doing its best Garbage impersonation, although Getz sounds more sincere than Ms. Manson. "Twenty-five" is probably my favorite track here; it has a wonderfully spacy, fuzzy vibe, and Ionov's almost-whispered vocals are particularly effective at giving the whole thing a strange, slightly distorted warmth.

Although some of the beats on Life Instructions Enclosed feel a bit dated, and a couple of tunes, like "Moses d808", really miss the mark, in general this is vibrant, exciting stuff. Imagine an American Portishead with less cough syrup and an occasional boy singer and you'll get the picture.

-- irving bellemead
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