Plaskett, Joel Emergency : Down At The Khyber

Nova Scotian songsmith's second, very tidy, album

We blamed Canada for Bryan Adams and the Barenaked Ladies, while overlooking it as the birthplace of Neil Young and Leonard Cohen. So the challenge that The Joel Plaskett Emergency face is to break away from their Nova Scotia origins, something their second LP manages, sounding like it's cast out on the late-'60s Californian coast with a direct line to The Who's rehearsal studios.

Hopelessly retro and hopelessly cool then - at least, the way Plaskett and band play it. Where so many of Plaskett's psychedelia- dabbling peers sound like they're out of their tree on twee, this is headier and heavier. 'Clueless Wonder', for instance, is stuffed with rusty, metallic guitars and crashing drums, the likes of which should make their forthcoming British live shows a blast.

The one cover on here, Hortense Ellis' 'Cry Together' is reinterpreted as a ragged Flaming Lips, aided by Plaskett's yearning and untethered voice. Lyrically, Plaskett is smart and caustic, most notably on the prime Lemonheadery of 'True Patriot Love' ("I fall asleep with the TV on/ At 3am they play 'Oh, Canada'."), 'Down At The Khyber' is really very good. Good enough even to override Joel's resemblance to Jamie Oliver on the cover.

Noel Gardner
7 / 10

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