They may be young, but LA’s Raw Fabrics are already onto their second EP. Forget “sophomore slump”, Plastic Joy is just that – a joy to hear. A stomping five tracks that recall the kind of freedom and energy of indie’s heyday. If your ears have felt a little bereft since bands like Young Knives and fellow Los Angelenos The Blood Arm exited the party, Raw Fabrics are poised to rekindle some fires.
Not that Plastic Joy feels outdated or revivalist, the similarities lie in the same hedonistic blend of indie rock and electro that brought band fans to dance floors. Formed in LA in 2012, Raw Fabrics came together with the intention of creating music that they loved. Ironically finding the punk scene too rule abiding and regimented, the band decided to write by instinct rather than by influence. The result is a gorgeous layering of sound all rounded off with Jack b. Franco’s grit-touched vocals. His voice an instrument in itself, Franco rolls aggression around his mouth like a flavour, occasionally spitting it straight down the mic.
Opening track Beast is a pounding lead in, with a We Will Rock You beat and unapologetic refrains. Working with producer/engineer Joe Chiccarelli (The Strokes/U2/Morrissey), Raw Fabrics grasped the secret of “less is more” early on. Achieving an anthemic feel with such a stripped back sound, each part holds it own and with nowhere to hide, the instrumentation brings a sense of confidence that runs throughout. Dead Instruments is reminiscent of Hot Chip hits with industrial sounds and looming basslines that transform into a glorious, hectic culmination.
Move Over has a true groove with more pop inspired melodies, it’s a slow-burn anthem – almost like a brilliant rework of Stereo MCs Connected. The second half of the EP feels like a sonic playground for Raw Fabrics’ artistic license. Stepping away from guitar leads in favour of cascading effects on Brainwash and playing off near-silence against crunchy riffs in title track Plastic Joy, vocals that touch on original hip-hop give way to primal yells and a sublime all-or-nothing finale.
Plastic Joy is an impressive showcase of Raw Fabrics’ writing and performance that exudes a maturity beyond their experience, and just enough of that punk spirit to strip away the Los Angeles lacquer.