There're all of these seriously fucking annoying truisms about the nature of rock n' roll that have been allowed to propagate and spread for way too fucking long now. Rock n' roll is a "young" "man's" game. A band has only two, three maximum, good albums in them. All the best stuff will be written in the early part of a band's career, after that, it's the law of diminishing returns in full effect. Bands need several years to craft and complete an album. Where, dear sirs, dear mythmakers, do the Legendary Pink Dots fit into your nostalgic haze? Thirty years, several albums out every year, each one building on the last, restlessly treading new ground each time. According to the immutable laws of rock n' roll, I shouldn't even be listening to “Plutonium Blonde” right now, and certainly not enjoying it as much as I am.
“Plutonium Blonde” finds the Dots stepping back from the elegiac and stately despair and politics-as-eulogy that pervaded “All The Kings Men” and “Wailing Wall,” and instead crafting ten sonically diverse mad-scientist lullabies. Some of it is drop-dead gorgeous, some unbelievably creepy, the rest, utterly flushed with the limitless possibilities of outsider sound. The principal players are in fine form. Edward Ka-Spel's childlike lilt is evergreen and drunk with wonder, his lyrics cloying and inscrutable. Nils Van Hornblower flits furtively in and amongst the mechanical spines of the song, every bit the sonic deus ex machina, before bursting forth like a hard-charging jazzman. Ryan Moore's guitar is still wondrously soulful and human, even when splintering into millions of tiny angular shards, chiming and bell-like, or drifting and otherworldly, like the last embers of a dying fire. Silverman keeps the electronics and percussion groovy enough to form the spine of their fractured pop, but weird and skittering and unexpected enough to continually jolt the listener.
Listen, buddy, they were survivors all along. Strength through creation. Ever wondered what Syd Barrett or the Soft Machine would be like if they'd managed to keep it going, to keep it together, for the sake of art over all else? Well, wonder no further.
- Matthew Moyer