Photo by Sarah Hulse
Emo and pop are the cheddar cheese and apple pie of music. One would think that if mixed, the potency of the cheese would ostensibly overpower the sweetness of the apple filling, just as the overwhelming emotional and/or instrumental complexity of emo would clash with the inherent simplicity of a pop song.
However, bands like The Promise Ring and The Get Up Kids were bold enough to mash the two flavors in the late 90s, and since then there’ve been waves of successors either sharpening or sweetening the surprisingly appetizing recipe. Albany’s The Plastic Faction are one of the latest bands to use those ingredients, blending heaps of guitar intricacies and nasally vocals with radio-ready hooks and harmonies on their debut album Trinket, which drops June 22.
“I love pop music, everyone in the band loves pop music,” singer/songwriter Jacob Crofoot said over the phone last week. “[The band has] always been emo/rock music but we’ve definitely added a lot more pop elements—which is good, I think. It was important to take that turn for us cause that reflects who we are in the moment,” he said.
Although Crofoot, 24, formed the band in 2010 with guitarist Zachary Wade and a few high school friends, they didn’t start frequently recording and playing out until a couple years ago and have continuously undergone lineup changes, which is something Crofoot views as a benefit. His description of the project made it seem like somewhat of a collective, constantly bringing in new viewpoints and evolving naturally as they grow as musicians.
“It’s always more interesting for me to see what other people bring to the table. Cause I know that my idea isn’t necessarily the best idea, because I have such a limited perspective as far as music goes,” he said. “I don’t wanna guide what someone else writes for one of my songs. I would rather have it be a genuine experience for them. I like it when people come to the song with their own thing going on.”
These influences from outside the emo sphere bleed all over Trinket, resulting in eight songs that sound like a bunch of different musical personalities collaborating rather than a sole songwriter and a backing band. On a song like “Down,” Alenni Davis’ heavenly croons that sounded so lovely on her electro-pop effort Constellations also fit beautifully in between crunchy guitar licks and when paired with Crofoot’s falsetto. However, the duo also rip through a blazing pop-punk chorus on the next song “Yes I Am” where Davis nearly snarls out the tail-end of her line—which is not only a valuable touch of urgency, but a showcase of her and Crofoot’s vocal breadth throughout the album.
Trinket isn’t just a display of vocal talent, though. Bassist Scoops Dardaris injects nuanced licks in cuts like “Kismet” and “Rain Season,” and drummer Dylan Redmond’s machine gun stickmanship on “Yes I Am” is so fast it’s hard to tap along to. After listening through a dozen times and attempting to dissect all of the layers (“everyone records like five guitar parts,” Crofoot said), it makes sense that nearly every band member has a music degree. Behind Crofoot’s self-proclaimed angsty lyrics are five music nerds writing some of the most intricate pop-rock music of 2017.
“We try to write really contemporary emo music by using things that I might hear in trap music,” Crofoot said, name-dropping both A Great Big Pile of Leaves and Travis Scott as influences.
Unfortunately for Albany, the band will be pilgriming to Philly in August alongside Crofoot and Davis’ other band, the “worry-pop” act Another Michael. However, Crofoot seemed excited for the move and hopeful for the future of The Plastic Faction, despite all of the other projects its members are involved with.
“I’d love for it to be a full-time thing and I think we’re working towards that,” he said. “I do love being in other people’s music also. Being a musician for me is to play with as many different acts as I can possibly manage while staying sane and having fun,” he said.
Trinket is out June 22 via Newlywed Records and Nothing Feels Good records.