[sic] Magazine

Plum – The Seed

Identity crisis? Shona Maguire (aka Plum ) is a talent. She writes imaginatively, she plays with real grace and her voice is really quite beautiful. Yet somehow The Seed isn’t working. It’s less than the sum of its parts. Is Shona sure where she’s going with this? I’m not convinced, at least not this time around. Different Skin , her debut was less ambitious but more coherent. The Seed is all over the place and hence somewhat muddled.

The main difference between The Seed and Different Skin is that this latest record makes a conscious effort to be different. The Seed is about as varied as I could imagine from this artist. Our Shona has sure spent some time playing around with different rhythm settings. Thus we get the drum n bass-esque ‘Smile’ plus looser groves such as ‘Chrysalis’ (reminiscent of Gorillaz or Smoke City’s ‘Underwater Love’) and ‘Dust’ (reminiscent of Ian Brown’s ‘Corpses’) But what does Plum want to be? A dance act? Or another Florence Welch ?

The Seed is far from a bad album. Clearly Plum is trying to marry nature (see the songtitles) with the mechanical (those sequencers). Blend or contrast, either way it’s pretty clever. Two of The Seed’s biggest hitting tracks only add fuel to the fire of confusion here. ‘Butterflies’ is an achingly beautiful acoustic ballad that’ll send lower parts of your face floorward. Lovely guitarwork and vocals belie the desperately sad subject matter. Contrast ‘Butterflies’ with ‘Dirt’, a dazzling foot stomper in Goldfrapp And The Machine mould and two distinct paths are revealed, paths that seem mutually exclusive and yet co-exist on this unsettled record.

Admittedly it’s tough to put my finger on what went astray here? Is it the running order? Certainly ‘The Truth And The Knife’ in position two doesn’t work for me. Or is it that variety? Plum certainly doesn’t need to showcase her talent in such a ‘portfolio’ manner. Anyone can already see that she’s great. I can only summarise it like this: The Seed sounds like the remix collection of a far superior album. You know the type, loaded with interesting re-interpretations of your favourite songs. They always make me want to play the originals. Problem is, on The Seed , these are the originals! ‘Secret Roots’ is a perfect example of this.

I still love Plum though. Something in Shona Maguire’s words and music brings out my protective side. Be yourself Shona, and we’ll all get butterflies.


Different Skin

Plum website and store