Planes Mistaken for Stars - We Ride to Fight! The First Four Years (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Planes Mistaken for Stars

We Ride to Fight! The First Four Years (2007)

No Idea

Planes Mistaken for Stars' We Ride to Fight! The First Four Years is, well, a lot like Black Flag's The First Four Years -- and, well, the former covers the latter a few times on this. Both bands, after all, provide almost exactly what their title implies; PMFS give us their entire recorded output from their first four years as a band, aside from their first full-length, Fuck with Fire. Frankly, that's fine; the compilation already tops out at 24 songs and over an hour long, so another full album tacked onto this would just push it to ridiculous proportions.

The disc starts off with what's probably my favorite release by the band: their eight-song self-titled EP, originally released in 1998 on Deep Elm. Here, PMFS were at their most melodic and emotional. Hell, half the thing sounds like early Sunny Day Real Estate, which would be a ridiculous comparison to make with any of PMFS's later material. It certainly retains the roughness and raw edge they would taken into uncharted territory later down the line, but that juxtaposition against lighter and more drifting arrangements makes for a great and heartfelt listen. The other more ragged tracks from this EP recall a more rough-hewn and smothering Rites of Spring.

Bridging the gap between the self-titled and 2000's Fucking Fight 7" is "Staggerswallowswell," which opened a three-way split with Appleseed Cast and Racecar Riot (again, on Deep Elm, 1999) and was a pretty sensible progression.

Fucking Fight celebrates its namesake with a more screamy, intense sound than before and a frothy, static-laden recording.

Next is 2000's Knife in the Marathon EP (Deep Elm), where the production is a little better (even though all the songs to this point had the same guy recording them at the same place) and the tracks range from a mix of screams and the band's typical gravelly murmur ("Pillbox," "66crush") to low-lying crawlers ("Anthem"). There's also a raging cover of Unbroken's "Fall on Proverb."

Things start to wrap up as the band bust out four straight Black Flag covers: "Wasted," "Police Story," "Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie" and "Depression." It's good to hear the band actually sounding like they're having fun for once, and they pull each off pretty well.

Last is 2002's Spearheading the Sin Movement (No Idea), where things run heartily on pure energy.

We Ride to Fight! The First Four Years is comprehensive to the limits of sensibility, and holds up very well as a linear listen of Planes Mistaken for Stars' earlier work.