(Originally published in Private Suite magazine, issue 5)
Album Review: PLASTIC WHATEVER, by Desired (Neon City Records)
Desired’s PLASTIC WHATEVER is a meditation on the hyperkinetic but dispassionate life, a synthetic hodgepodge of lollipop hooks and frenetic drops precisely engineered to keep us moving, two steps ahead of a blunt and crushing reality.
The tableau is a pleasingly garish one. Tracks like “Plastic Life,” “Neon Maze,” and “Distorted Silhouette” make Side A a swirl of pink house lights and teal bubblegum—essential ingredients in this cocktail meant to overload the sensorium. Bring sunglasses. Side B is much more wistful, as the final hours before last call tend to be. “Fairy Tale” is full of longing for someone special but no one in particular. “Floor 25” is the location of an after party where you hate everyone but stay anyway, because the drinks are free and functional. “Moment of Summer” is a precious bit of reverie amid the sex, drugs, high-pile carpet, and numbing loneliness.
PLASTIC WHATEVER is the soundtrack for a scenario that’s by now quite familiar: another listless night in a neon-soaked city that’s all sparkle and no substance, another aimless trek through a string of blindingly lustrous but forgettable clubs, another evening spent doing everything possible to keep the morning—with its inevitable dimension and demands—at bay. The true gift from Desired, however, is that PLASTIC WHATEVER ventures where other future funk and nu disco releases (including the artist’s prior efforts) frequently don’t. Its soundtrack constitutes a space between the clubs, so we experience both the excessively polished, glossy nightclubs and the grimy, rain-soaked alleys connecting them. With “Hotel 1987,” we’re wending through the streets with our hands stuffed in the pockets of a slippery, nylon trench coat, searching for more and better stimulation. “Android Shelter” guides us past that ugly place just out of sight, where the mecha go to die. “Commercial Break” reminds us who brought us the entire experience. Movement between the oversaturated and the crumbling, between the bright and the scummy, are central to Desired’s efforts here.
Pried from its slick polymer blister pack, this album glints in the steam leaking from that vent in the sidewalk. It’s an hypnotic collection of polycarbonate ephemera encapsulating the candy-coated nihilism of a life lived only for the next manufactured movement—the ideal backdrop to this incandescent (non)place completely devoid of meaning, this disposable dreamworld, this plastic whatever.
# February 22, 2019