The Netherlands have bestowed upon us yet another creative gift in the musical personas of the band Kraak & Smaak and their recently released second album entitled Plastic People. They are not two people as their name implies, but at least a trio consisting of Mark Kneppers, Oscar De Jong and Wim Plug who have concocted a blend of soulful electronica and beats – some of which would fit nicely back in the mid-1980s break dance craze.
The first song is bouncy and a great inaugural piece, like that first fashion model of the evening strutting her stuff on the catwalk; the vocals evoking memories of the late Curtis Mayfield, and are poignant with the times in which we live, “I ain’t got no money, I ain’t got no car; I ain’t got no future ‘cause I ain’t got a job/but when I look in the mirror, I still se a star...” This album has a likeable, versatile personality straight-away; feel the Herbalizer-like textures of “Squeeze Me”, and for another example, “That’s My Word” evokes a bit of the late eighties band Loose Ends, with more of a Hip Hop flair. The best and most danceable song is the energetic title track, “Plastic People”. “Cornered” is notable in that it features a clarinet solo; an instrument seldom-used in today’s music – especially in electronic veins, layered amongst a pseudo- African mood like a scene from a old black & white Tarzan movie.
“California Roll” is not only a sushi dish, but a real movin’, smooth instrumental that would work well for radio production. I dig the epicurean and perceptive vocals by Rose, their own lead vocalist, on song number eleven, as she repeatedly poses the musical query, “are you Ready For Life?” And as an added wrinkle, there is the mysterious “voice” that hauntingly comes in a couple of times to announce the duo’s names or song titles on this album. He sounds like the late actor Vincent Price; especially so when it comes along waaay after the last notes of cut thirteen, “To Everyone Who Has”, laughing manically as if from a Halloween fun House. By this time, there has been such a long silence that, if you haven’t disengaged the CD from the player, it’ll shock you! I went, “Who else is in the house with me?”, when I heard it the first time.
Unlike their distant cousins, the grocery bag, Plastic People are very environmentally friendly! That is a fact that will serve Kraak & Smaak well on their current U.S. tour where the Mayors of a few cities now endeavor to absurdly add surtax to things made out of it. Drug double entendres aside, this Holland trio’s music is as tasty and full-bodied as a Heineken (I just HAD to get that reference in) three-and-a half star frosty pint. Cheers.
Released September 9, 2008 on Ultra Records.