Sometimes you can tell a lot about people without ever meeting them in person. For example, after only a couple of listens through Body Language, the latest offering from Croatian electro-rock duo Plastic Knives, I know that Damjan Vujaklija and Nikola Babić grew up playing side-scrolling video games. Similarly, I can tell that if a friend of yours, who is a drummer, ever heard this record, he probably wouldn’t shut up about it for weeks. That’s because Babić’s drumming on this thing is awesome, and the juxtaposition of Vujaklija’s lush instrumental lines over his busy syncopations make a collection of songs that are as danceable as they are intricate.
“Goldrush” opens with a drum pattern that’s as subtle as it is infectious. From there, a stark guitar line builds and builds until the driving bass kicks in and brings the whole thing home. “Secret lvl” lives up to its namesake as it becomes the soundtrack to some dank and eerie two-dimensional dungeon. “Ballgagger” takes a fat funk groove and throws it all over the place, even going so far as to break it apart in a section that would make any improv jazz player proud. The title track is majestic, menacing, and a masterpiece. It takes the album through a journey with its seven-based flood of post-rock and feedback.
Sometimes the video game goofiness goes a little too far. The longest track, “Dying Kings” is half awesome. At eight minutes long, the big spacey chords and synth slides work, but the one-up sound effects are a little gimmicky, and the song could have stood to have its fat trimmed a little. Similarly, “Gonna Throw Myself Around” is a fun beat that’s dance floor ready, but it could have used melodies that were a little more tangible.
For the most part though, Body Language is a record that stays true to the core of progressive rock while still providing a fresh and innovative sound. As the band’s bio suggests, fans of Queens of the Stone Age, The Mars Volta, Justice, and Crystal Castles should definitely give this a listen.
Written by Syd Ghan
*edited by Danielle Kenedy