Within the confines of this split single we’ve two rather different beasts. Starters Awful Sparks, Londoners who describe themselves as a modern rock band, manage simultaneously to sound rather English Summer and to inject a note of continentialness. The Englishness comes from the accent, from the somewhat uptight vocal delivery which fits nicely with the wound-up nature of the first two songs. The continental about them comes most obviously from the fact that their third offering ('Le Nuit, C’est Paradis') is sung entirely in French, and also from a sense of slightly balmy dreaminess hidden within the treble stab of the guitars. I do suspect that in a live show this low-production-value edge might be lost, leaving nothing but generic binman indie, but on record they’ve a definite quirky charm.
Plastic Passion’s two songs lack Awful Sparks’ sense of cohesion, sounding as though they could’ve stemmed from the staves of two completely different bands. 'Not Art' has the straightforward structure and vocal repetition of early punk, calling to mind the output of early Buzzcocks; whereas 'Pequena Petit' (what is it with these bands and their European linguistic sensibilities?) is a high-flying trebley indie number: plenty of twangy bass overlaid with pained vocals and amateur-heartache guitars. The simplistic, snooty energy of the former appeals more to me than the slightly generic back room emoting of the latter; presumably these two disparate identities will eventually be either combined or chosen between to form a Unique Sense Of Band.
This split single falls, I feel, rather definitely into the category of Indie Niche: both bands make the kind of noise in which a select few will delight, while the rest of the world is left amiably nonplussed. And I must confess I fall firmly into the latter category: the songs here are amiable and lively enough, but they simply fail to transcend that amiability and become something special or affecting. To exist just for the sake of existing – as it seems these songs do – is nice in a way, but it seems to me to deprive these bands of that urgency of purpose which would spark a corresponding urgency in the reaction of the listener. A shame, but there it is.