Sound — 9
Every now and then a band comes along to break the walls of rock and metal, and to show off its less serious side. Some call them novelty acts, some call them gimmick bands, but these comedic rockers from Flint Michigan simply call themselves Plethora, and they have made one heck of a statement with their debut album "The Eighth Day," proving that you can be serious in music, while not being serious.
How does one even begin to describe the sound of this band? While rock/metal is at the core of all of their songs, each song encompasses a different underlying style, often based on the overall topic of each song. These topics range from pirates, to food, to animals with disabilities, and even to dinosaurs, all within one album. For example, one of the top tracks on the album "Lucky the Pirate" busts out the accordion and pipe organ to give you that folk rock sound, while other songs such as "Instruments of War" or "Bartholomew the Slug Goes to the Moon" are backed by a large symphony, which add the feel of a cinematic battle or quest through outer space. The band also uses a wide array of sound effects to convey the song's messages or add imagery to the stories being told.
With this variety of songs also comes a variety of vocal styles. Two primary singers can be heard throughout the album, with vocals ranging from soft and clean, to heavy growls, all again based around the type of song written. At times you might even hear all of the band members, with gang vocals used in many sections of some songs. To further instill their comedic background, you will even hear witty banter between members in the middle of songs such as in "Ferrari" or "The Bumblebee Blues." If anything stands out the most with vocals overall, it is the two to three part harmonies used on the extremely catchy choruses.
While most of the melodies in the music are guitar driven, one interesting instrument stands out the most. That instrument is the ever hilarious kazoo. You never knew when it would show up, but when it did, it never failed to amuse. If there is one band that can say they can "shred" on a kazoo, it is Plethora. Some songs it would appear as just a solo part such as in "Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner," while others like "Instruments of War" it would appear as the melodic line.
The production quality of the album is right at the top, no garage recordings here. The only thing that might take away from this album is that some of the backing tracks might have a few instruments that sound slightly off or maybe even fake, as tends to happen while using midi tracks and generated sounds on a keyboard. I look forward to seeing how this band can progress from here, hopefully getting to the point of recording using all real instruments for its backtracks. Some of the choruses have that "copy and paste" aspect to them as well, but it does not do anything to make the songs horrible by any means.
Overall the sound is well done, and you will find most of the melodies stuck in your head long after listening.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics of this band are pretty much as random as the song titles are. But you could also say that the band's abundance of song types and styles also reflect the band name itself. The use of subtle jokes makes the music even more entertaining, often done verbally as well as musically. Lyrically there are a few references to internet memes, restaurant and product slogans, and even hometown locations thrown in. Musical examples include "Bobby Bou the Narcoleptic Sea Cow," in which cow bell hits are prevalent throughout, while "Love Song (Mi Amor El Queso)" has a double key change, done as a parody to the power ballad.
Plethora seems to have two different ways of writing songs lyrically. Many songs tell a funny story, usually backed by dark humor, while the other songs tend to focus on something random like a type of food or car. Some of the songs seem to take the randomness to a new level, as well as incorporating a few inside jokes, which are actually explained, but you have to read through the album's booklet. So the first listen through on a song or two might leave you confused after a line, but really that is just nit-picking at this point.
Overall Impression — 9
Many bands like to claim that they are "redefining the genre" of whatever style they are playing, and usually, nothing sounds unique about them. If any band is redefining any genres, it is Plethora, as they not only show that they can write in almost any style of music, but they also show a fresh new type of comedic band. They show that they can be funny without being vulgar, as there is no cursing or "R" rated topics at all through the album, as such with bands such as GWAR or Psychostick.
Speaking of GWAR and Psychostick, if you enjoy those bands, you will enjoy "The Eighth Day." Other bands that might have influenced the sound would be Tenacious D, Alestorm, and Weird Al, but you really have to take a listen to fully comprehend what is being said about the album. One of the funniest songs on the album might just be "Falcon." It is literally five seconds long, and completely unexpected.
Overall this album was a nice break from the norm. The sound is great, the lyrics are catchy, and will have you laughing until the end. I look forward to seeing what else this band has in store, because they have great potential. All they have to do is fix some of the minor issues, but otherwise this band can go far.