On their breakthrough second album, the Brooklyn band takes flight despite in a city grounded by COVID-19
Artist: London Plane
Album: B R I G H T B L A C K
Label: Declared Goods
★★★★ (4/5 stars)
New York City was ravaged by COVID-19 more than any other American city, not just in terms of the lives that were lost but also the tragic loss of iconic cultural establishments that defined life for those of us who grew up hanging out in Manhattan.
But while the city is nowhere near what it was 20 years ago–even more so now thanks to this fucking disease–you discover a band like Brooklyn’s London Plane who reminds you of the vibrancy of the Lower East Side circa 1999 in the air of their style and purity of their sound. In fact, when you first experience the sounds of their recently released sophomore album, B R I G H T B L A C K, you may even find yourself wondering if you caught these cats at Brownies or Baby Jupiter way back when.
Singer Jessica Cole achieves this deft balance between the contrasting cool of both Ronnie Spector and Siouxsie Sioux to principal songwriter David Mosey’s Peter Murphy as their group–rounded out by guitarist Kristofer Widholm, Julian Tulip on keys, and drummer Bryan Garbe and bassist Grant Parker–serve as the consummate Bunnymen.
“Though the intricacies of the album were developed methodically over most of 2019, the identity and frame of the songs came quickly during short, intense sessions which followed listening bursts, just a few seconds from songs that I hoped would serve to form the mood for the evening,” Mosey told our own Katherine Yeske Taylor in May for her feature on London Plane in The Big Takeover. “Obvious players like Bauhaus, The Clash, Iggy Pop, but then also perhaps less direct influences like reggae dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, drummer Mark Guiliana, even Stravinsky would play for ten seconds, then off we’d go. If our song didn’t seem vital, dangerous, the group would move on. I think the method was effective – Bright Black captures that initial energy. The songs are as willful, barbed, sardonic and hopeful as they were in minute one when the spirit first showed up.”
Goth and Darkwave are two handles that have been given to London Plane since they first took flight in 2018. But as B R I G H T B L A C K so succinctly illustrates, this is a group who has been able to provide a natural bridge connecting those halcyon nights at The Pyramid with the electricity of the woebegone 285 Kent scene in a way that really brings a sense of promise to the New York City music community.
The day will come when all the big ugly glass condominiums they built on the street where Tonic and the Lansky Lounge used to call home becomes affordable housing. And the small little culture shops start opening back up along Ludlow and Orchard Streets. New venues, clubs and dive bars will become key domains for live music in this city once again.
And you can be damn sure London Plane will be onstage somewhere to insure the spirit of a scene that once was will be injected into those hopeful post-COVID days to come.
VIDEO: London Plane “Francesco”