Sometimes I think the part of my brain that understands pop music was destroyed in an accident I don’t remember having. I’ll hear a record and I’ll tell someone (a friend, a stranger, whomever) to listen to it because it’s catchy or good or interesting and they’ll be like, “What are you TALKING about? This is just noise” while to me it’ll sound so perfect it should be on every radio station at once, so perfect why wouldn’t you recommend it to people? Also, this is important: I don’t care. If someone doesn’t see that Suicide or Bastard Noise or Holy Molar are pop music then obviously they’re hearing it wrong, obviously they’re the ones with the fucking head injury.
To me, and I don’t care to whom else, Planet B is pop music and their debut LP is a pop record. I don’t know if I could name an actual current pop music artist besides Ariana Grande (and only because our names are almost the same and people tell me about it often like I don’t fucking know already) so there won’t be a contrast and compare or any critical analysis here. This is just to say, the band’s LP, released two years ago today, is outstandingly catchy and there is not a song on it that won’t get stuck in your head in some way, shape, or form. Ergo, Pop music. Okay?
The reason this record is so catchy is because Planet B’s Luke Henshaw is:
1) a wizard who has given (not sold) his soul to Satan
2) a library of deep hiphop knowledge
and 3) very smart about what he chooses to sample and how he chooses to present that sample.
The bulk of the music here is from Luke’s sampler and he layers everything into this thick, energetic, dirty baroque, elaborate quilt of beats, industrial noises, synth throbs, and none of it sounds like anything you might recognize. You can’t be like, “Ohhh, well, yeaaah, that’s definitely a guitar there” or whatever because Luke’s tracks are otherworldly, distorted, strange, sourced from weird places … I can’t believe I just used the word “sourced” here. Anyway, as you navigate this record, and as Justin Pearson’s vocals come in and out, searing and caustic, as well as the contributions of a few guests (Kool Keith, Sonny Kay, Becky DiGiglio, Nick Zinner, Martin Atkins, and Joey Karam), you are never quite sure which end is up or what DMT-fucked dimension you’re in or whether what you’re hearing is drums or a looped car backfiring or an exploding whale or the sound of a big demon eating a smaller demon eating an even smaller demon ad infinitum. At the hands of a lesser producer, this might make you seasick, but with Luke everything is Midas-touched here and the gold shines mythicaly. Whether “mythicaly” is an actual word is for another time and place, the point here being: this record is some catchy weird shit that is pop music to me and it deserves your full attention and deeper analysis. So do that. Like I said earlier, I couldn’t care less if you agree with me, but the Planet B LP is a healthy thing for you. Like vitamins or a good cup of hot blood after a day in the battlefields slaying your enemies.
– Adam Gnade (11/23/20)
Video by Displaced/Replaced