Sunday, September 14, 2008

Lost Bands of Britpop (Part Five)

Some bands just catch lightening in a bottle. They are great for one record and then disappear. For some it's not that they don't release other stuff; it's merely that it's ignored. For others, one record is all they can muster. ELASTICA actually fit into both categories. I remember getting the 7" record of their first US single "Stutter" (back in my radio days when records were still pressed for playing purposes) and I was shocked at what I heard. Not since THE PRETENDERS, had I heard a female voice with such power and focus. Justine Frischmann had the kind of raw emotion to her voice that made their songs jump out of the speakers and grab hold of you. I must have played "Stutter" three dozen times prior to the release of their debut record. Needless to say, my hopes were high for the whole album. And it did not disappoint. Now, Elastica, wasn't exactly setting off in uncharted waters with their mix of pop and punk but it had a real sense of urgency and the entire collection had a drive and immediacy to it that it mad it infectious. Then radio got a hold of "Connection" and everything changed. Justine became the new it face of British rock (due in large part to her very public relationship with Blur's Damon Albarn) and the band couldn't put a follow up together. Time came and went, as did several members of the band, and most of the world forgot about the band.

Justine and a new line-up put out a follow up but it didn't go anywhere. This is what I mean by a band that falls into two categories. They didn't have enough in their creative repertoire to sustain a second record when the first took off. Then by the time they did, music had moved on. It's for the best really. Even now, the first album stands up remarkably well to the test of time. "Never Here" and "Waling Up" could still fit into US radio today (and they weren't even singles here). "Connection" still hits a wondrous note with the siren style guitar lick. Even the album tracks have the same bite they did almost thirteen years later. Truly, Elastica was one of the great lost britpop bands.


adam said...

An excellent call, no question. There's a great book - The Last Party: Britpop, Blair and the Demise of English Rock' by John Harris which centres around the Blur/Elastica/Suede triangle and demonstrates how really Oasis were late Northern outsiders at that party and has a lot to say about Elasitica's demise - ignore the title, it is minimally about politics or even the politics/rock crossover and instead is a great narrative of the Britpop years. And the only other thing I'd say is that if you're talking about the demise of Elastica you really need to mention heroin somewhere, sadly.

JC said...

Adam's just about said it all except that it only became clear after Justine/Damon broke-up that he was in fact a silenr contibutor to the band in terms of songs/tunes/ideas, and without him, she was, sad to say, only half the talent we all thought she was.