[Album Review] Dada Plan- A Dada Plan Is Free
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by Mark Anthony Brennan
dadaplan
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Release Date: October 21st, 2014
Label: Kingfisher Bluez

Dada was an art movement in the early 20th century that celebrated the absurd and the nonsensical. A data plan, on the other hand, is a mundane phrase from the early 21st century that is a reflection of our electronic media-obsessed society. Put the two together and you have … I dunno, a bunch of guys who think they’re clever? The good news is that, from a musical perspective, they are.

‘A Dada Plan is Free’ is, in fact, a concept album in that all of the songs involve a social commentary on our obsession with modern technology and our separation from the natural world. Things get a little meta because the band employs a lot of technology (synths, a motorik beat, studio effects) in its sound, thereby embracing the very thing that the album is criticizing. In less talented hands this approach could test the listener’s tolerance level by being too cute and/or self-indulgent. Dada Plan, however, offer up smart, polished art rock that entertains even as it toys with us. Yes, there’s a degree of self-mockery, but when the music is this good you can just smirk it off.

The band leans heavily on the more intelligent variety of glitter rock that pervaded Britain in the early ’70’s, e.g. Bowie, Eno, Roxy Music and Mott the Hoople. These influences are particularly evident on tracks like “Vaguely Mystical” with its complex rhythm/beat and “The Hanging Mirrors of Life-Skype”, an album stand-out with killer lines like, “while history pulls out all your teeth/if you give it wings“. But the record also incorporates the more contemporary sounds of electropop (“Mr. Window”) and chillwave (“Over When You Die”) and the older sounds of Beatlesque pop (“Who’s the Thief?”) and cheesy psychedelia (“Breathe Again”). Perhaps the most interesting song stylistically is the jazzy, quasi-spoken word number “Human Language”, which comes off as a 21st century version of beat poetry.

Dada Plan cut a direct path from the early 1970’s (with some 1960’s leftovers) to the ultra-modern sounds of 2014, gleefully dispensing with any contamination from musical styles that came in between, such as disco, punk, grunge and hip-hop. Despite being unable to keep a straight face while doing an art rock concept album in 2014, the guys deliver the goods with such skillful aplomb that it’s hard to resist the guilty pleasure.