I was sitting around at almost 3 a.m. listening to this record. And then it came to me to see if it was reviewed and it wasn't, which is a crime against humanity, so here it is. Bear in mind this is the first review of mine so be gentle.
This is Planes Mistaken for Stars' first recording, which was originally self-released in 1998 before being picked up by Deep Elm a year later for a reissue. It's very different in many ways to their later works, but in no way is that a bad thing. It's got that `90s post-hardcore and D.C.-era emo (the real kind) feel to it, reminding me of Still Life in its complexity and bi-polar song structure. It's like that girl you're into that doesn't know what she wants but you stick around because damn, she's sexy.
Getting to the album itself, words are tough to describe. The opener "Copper and Stars" blasts off with a searing riff filled with so much emotion in itself your eyes well up before a single word is spoken. And once those words are spoken in the echoed, drawn-out manner that they are, it's time to invest in a tissue of some variety, because this is one of the few songs I've ever heard this side of Hot Water Music's "Where We Belong" that provoke such a feeling of "Wow man, I'm fuckin' there." You could just picture yourself screaming along to it at a show in dirty, dimly lit basement somewhere with all your friends in tow. And it never ends.
The fourth cut on this album, "The Past Two" seems like the evil twin brother of "Copper and Stars." They're much alike in appearance, with its launchpad riff that leaves you wide-eyed in anticipation for what comes next. And what comes next is what I'd imagine what your worst day could sound like in audio form, with lyrics crooned like the last words of a man who just gave up and walked off into a midnight Denver snow storm never to be seen again: "...I just called and I just wrote to say goodbye. 'Cuz I'm afraid when the snow clears there won't be much left of me." Being a New Englander, these words ring true.
At 24 minutes, this record has a lot going on for itself. Another standout track is "Standing Still Fast," which sounds almost like a mid-summer murmured lullaby after a disappointing day -- the kind of thing you'd find yourself singing to yourself with a half-empty bottle in your hand as you slowly fade off to sleep. It's quiet yet unforgettable with its low swells and haunting melody. It's a style also seen in a previous track, "The Time It Took," but I felt was better executed here --a style that manifests itself throughout the whole album.
Finally, we get to the album closer "Where the Arrow Went Out." This killer starts out fast and strong like others on this release until it comes to a screeching halt where it starts to revisit that low drifting tone seen previously and then kicks it up again. Being the longest one on the album at 5:26, it's like a rollercoaster of emotions where it can't decide if it wants to rage all night or succumb to sleep. But when you get to 2:03, when you've almost let go, you get a cold bucket of guitar sex right in your face, where you proceed to scream and shout at the culprits until you black out.
If you don't own this record, there's something wrong with you. Its terrible beauty is not easily forgotten. The standalone copy from Deep Elm is out of print, so if you can't score one on eBay or something then you can always pick up We Ride to Fight: The First Four Years from No Idea, in which this album was reissued yet again with other PMFS early works and B-sides, including some rad Black Flag covers to put some icing on an already delicious cake.
These guys were so fucking good. I hope they get together soon...