Art & Design


MP3 of the Week: Row, Oarsman, Row by Francis Plagne

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If something is any good it’s usually an homage to something old. Most of the time these throwbacks only offer further proof that the human race has run out of ideas and that rats and weeds will soon dominate the earth. In rare instances, recreating styles of the past can be so sincere, so effortless and imaginative that to mention influences seems a little insulting.

In a generation that wears its inspirations on its sleeve, Francis Plagne stands out as a revivalist with credibility. Most reviews of his music will mention the Beach Boys and Tropicalia. And I hate to stray from the pack.

Beach Boys!


Without a doubt, Plagne has listened to Tropicalia. His use of augmented, languid chords lifted by rich string arrangements definitely have their roots in 1960s Brazil. His voice doesn’t quite waiver, but sits intimately uncomfortable, rambling through surrealist imagery, leading the band through dislocated sections of calm and confusion.

I don’t really hear the Beach Boys. More I hear The Beatles, with a similar use of rising and falling counter-melodies in the chorus, like classic baroque McCartneyism. But then Tropicalia guys loved The Beatles too so I guess this makes sense.

While maybe not the catchiest song he’s ever made, it’s one that captures the two-worlds of his music, sitting somewhere between gold fm and make it up club. Pop concrète.

It’s such a relief to hear that being inspired by the 60s means you can be clever, experimental, and sound nothing like Jet.

Have a listen here.

Francis Plagne is playing tonight (Fri 28 Oct) at Bella Union in Trades Hall, Cnr Victoria and Lygon St, Carlton. Sean Baxter, The Icy Poles and Mad Nanna supporting. Doors at 8pm.

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