Admittedly, this writer had not heard of Amazing Planes prior to the release of their new album, Lost In Translation, so I had not yet listened to their 2013 debut Broken Spokes. Nevertheless, two bars into the gutsy album opener ‘Saving The World’, I was hooked on their ballsy, fuzz-fuelled guitar rock. The whole album drips beads of old school, 70’s influenced rock-and-roll. With its heavily distorted guitars, chunky bass, pulsating drums and hair-raising vocals, it’s easy to assume that Amazing Planes is a group of four (possibly five) longhaired, bearded and leather-clad rockers, fresh from the back of a transit van. However, if you were to assume so (as this writer did), then you would be wrong. Amazing Planes is the brainchild and pet project of Nottingham natives David Hardy and Mark Nelson. Yes, that’s it. Just the two of them. It may seem hard to wrap your head around, but the sounds blasting from your speakers were created by merely two men in a studio.
This begs the question – how on Earth does it sound so damn good? As far as the production goes, the entire album is flawless. The rock-and-roll of nowadays can so easily come across as an overproduced mess, becoming a puddle of screaming and synths and cymbals and nothing more. But Hardy and Nelson mixed and mastered the record perfectly. This is no doubt down to their backgrounds as studio engineers. Their experience definitely trickled onto this album, as one thing is absolute about Lost In Translation – your ears will thank you for listening to it.
However, as the album progresses, it becomes clear that Amazing Planes stick to what they know. To best describe their sound, imagine Led Zeppelin with harmonies, occasional horns, and two fewer members. But whereas Zeppelin had more experimental songs like Stairway to Heaven, Moby Dick, and The Battle of Evermore, Amazing Planes seem to be a one trick pony. The guitar sound on ‘She Said’ is a highlight, as is the Black Keys-esque ‘Tell Me You Do’, with their old-school blues guitar licks reigning supreme throughout all nine songs on the album. But there’s no real seasoning or spice to the album. Quite simply, Amazing Planes are clearly very inspired, but not very inspiring. However, I maintain that this album – on a purely sonic level – is a marvel.
If you find yourself hosting an outdoor summer barbeque and in need of background music to keep everyone revved up, Lost In Translation is for you. But if you’re looking for something fresh, something exciting, and something to blow you away – keep looking.