photo & text by nacrowe
ELASTICA's eponymous debut album ELASTICA (DGC, 1995) was the GREATEST record put out during the BRITPOP era. end stop. the album exudes a LYRICAL CONFIDENCE and SONIC SOPHISTICATION that was seemingly presented to the world from the outset as a committed and FULLY-FORMED musical statement. taking influence most notably from POST PUNK bands like WIRE and THE STRANGLERS, main songwriter JUSTINE FRISCHMANN was the master of refashioning ANGULAR GUITAR PASSAGES and ODD TIME SIGNATURES into DEVASTATINGLY EFFECTIVE sonic hooks that separated their sound from their BRITPOP and ALTERNATIVE ROCK brethren. being a SINGULAR recording for the ages, there are no weak tracks on the album, but NOTEWORTHY songs include "BLUE," "STUTTER," "2:1," "CONNECTION," "INDIAN SONG," "ANNIE," "LINE UP," "NEVER HERE" and my personal favorite, "WAKING UP." i know i just named nine tracks (and to be honest there are another two id add come to think of it), but its that kind of TRANSCENDENT album.
my introduction to ELASTICA was hearing their STELLAR single "CONNECTION" on 106.7 FM KROQ during my late elementary school years in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA. at the time i had no idea who the band was, or really anything about BRITPOP, but that indelible opening synth lick (courtesy of DAMON ALBARN of all things) with that ICONIC "eeeewwww-wahhhhhh" vocal intro was something absolutely seared into my adolescent FASCINATION and was a part of the soundtrack of my years going to traveling soccer and basketball matches throughout ORANGE, RIVERSIDE, LOS ANGELES and SAN DIEGO COUNTIES in my youth.
its funny, because i didnt actually discover ELASTICA by name until my senior year of high school when i found their debut and put the dots together on that "CONNECTION" single. i was stunned by how consistent ELASTICA was with its memorable SLINKY BASS-LINES (a la JEAN-JACQUES BURNEL and PETER HOOK) and SNAPPY VOCALS sung with ATTITUDE and a SNARL. that record was one of the key discoveries from my senior year of high school which i spent largely alone after being moved from the MIDDLE EAST to a unwitting relative in SACRAMENTO shortly after 9/11. other groups i discovered during this period included THE BREEDERS, LOVE AND ROCKETS, MASSIVE ATTACK, SLOWDIVE, FUGAZI, APHEX TWIN and THE CRAMPS. it was a horrible year but in that regard it was quite PRODUCTIVE.
why ELASTICA is not a bigger name in the history of ALTERNATIVE ROCK still baffles me. usually FRISCHMANN only gets mentioned because of her past relationships with DAMON ALBARN (or BLUR) and BRETT ANDERSON (of SUEDE) which is being SEXIST and does her a total disservice. it should be the other way around, that those two dudes once dated arguably the BEST songwriter of their generation. it could be that the band dissolved after another INCREDIBLE record due to cliche tropes of INFIGHTING and UNHEALTHY and ultimately DESTRUCTIVE narcotic habits. maybe, i dont know. it still stuns me that ELASTICA isnt more widely CELEBRATED. so go check out their debut album. seriously, its worth it.