Life in Plastic by Tom Aspaul | Album Review

Tom Aspaul’s sophomore outing gives Euro-pop glamour.

“With this, I really wanted to move things along. Because so much of the album is me looking back at my adult life. I wanted it to have that nostalgic twinge for the ’90s and the noughties because that’s when I came of age…It did really concern me that people might think because I’m doing a europop album, that there isn’t any depth to it and something’s fundamentally gone. But if anything I’d say there’s more depth in Life in Plastic than Black Country Disco.”

The album starts out with a short prelude “Dail-Up Intro”. The ambient dial up Internet sounds and quickening tempo of the electro-pop helps to set the tone of what is to come.

The artwork for the “Let Them (It’s All Love)” single.

“They like you because they can go for a drink with you and have fun. There is a place for people like that in your life and I’ve always appreciated people like that, but in the song ‘Let Them (It’s All Love)’, I’m not really criticising them. I’m just saying, it’s fine. It’s good to know where you stand?

We’re swept into an Mediterranean-esque dance vibe as the cool synths brake into house like beats. You’re transported into the club to dance free of the worries you have surrounding these people whose connection is weak at best. Like many of us, the notion of cutting these ties is terrifying yet necessary, “Sometimes you need take a breath/ Let it go, let it pass/ But I’m scared to death/ And what if I was wrong, oh no.” The club ready beat and anthemic “You gotta let them” that repeat will surely get you moving.

The official music video to “Let Them (It’s All Love)” directed by
The official music video to “Kiss It” directed by
The artwork for the “What is Real Anymore” single.

“It’s not about what team you’re on because it’s not Brad and Angelina Jolie, but it’s about the fact that it’s natural to gravitate to someone if you live in the same city as them. If someone moves away you’re going to lose touch over time. It was about the way everything seemed frozen in time in London whenever I would come back, but obviously it wasn’t, because everything had changed.”

Compared to the some of the other club fueled tracks, “Statues” sizzles into a gentle boil by the chorus. The change in guard from lovers to exes has left an irreparable rift in these friend groups, “So many late nights and mornings/ They were wasted, in every single way/ I really miss us, just talking/ But if I heard you now, heard you now/ I’d turn the other way.” Aspaul uses the euphoric rise to assure himself that these once open doors are worth closing. Although I enjoy the overall build up the song provides, it falls a bit flat in the production for me. “Wake Up In the Sun” gives me strong “Around the World (La La La La La)” by A Touch of Class vibes. By no means is it a one to one relationship, but more an interpolation of the underlying bass and chord progression. This throwback to European pop works beautifully with the sound Tom has cultivated. We’re taking this moment to transition out of the coldness we have been filling since our last heartbreak. You break free of the clouds and cold once to song erupts into the chorus, “I’m gonna wake up in the sun/ Open my eyes to the daylight/ And all the hurt will come undone/ Cos if I stay I won’t be right.” As I noted above, you get a subtle nod to “Around the World (La La La La La)in the “Na Na Na” rhythm following the chorus’s end.

An alternate cover for the deluxe release of Life in Plastic.
The official music video to “Thessaloniki” directed by

“It was a throwaway pop song about not wanting to be a flashy millionaire. That sounds really silly looking back but that’s what it was…Something about the verse in ‘Millionaire’ resonated with me considering what my situation is currently. It really rings true about how I feel about a lot of people. I’m not going to name any names, obviously, but there seems to be quite an obsession with a celebrity lifestyle and a flashy way of existing and I’m really not interested in that. I might come across as materialistic, but I feel like I’m really not a materialistic person at all.”

We get a little bit of a chilly vibe from the synth production here. As the quote above taunts, Tom is quite happy living is modest life. He ready to point out that this is elitist fast spending attitude is not how he lives his life, “You’ve been lied to/ Taken for ride/ You thought that I was like you/ Living like a m-m-millionaire.” Although the production is pristine, the lyrics feel a little unpolished compared to the other songs on the album. We end off the album on the electrifying “Effigy”. This song boils from start to finish. The effigy to haunts Tom is the ghost of his ex lover that seems to keep any other potential connections severed. Once the song’s hook of “Goes around and around and around”, the boil erupts fantastically. I appreciate the honesty he shows around the burned in emotions still left behind from the heartbreak suffered on his debut, “All the boys that fall for me every week/ Disappear when they see the effigy/ And a part of me that won’t see the truth/ Digs in deeper and deeper to try to get to you.”

Maybe that’s the reason I’ve sugarcoated it and made it so plastic sounding — because I’m so nervous to talk about these topics in a way that would be more direct. I’d be afraid of exposing myself. That’s why I’ve deflected it by making it so bright and sparkly and sexy — I’m literally in bondage gear on the album cover

I throughly enjoyed the bulk of the tracks on the album. It’s sexy, uptempo, and wonderfully gay (the artwork alone will have you hot under the collar). There are a few moments on the record that fall a little flat for me: “Statues” and “Millionaire”. That said, the rest of the work on this record is totally worthy of multiple listens. I love the throwback sounds and nods to other Brit/Euro-pop sounds. My favorites:

  • What is Real Anymore”
  • Wake Up In the Sun”
  • Thessaloniki”
  • Effigy”

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Z-sides: Music Reviews

Welcome to my personal blog. This is a place where I discuss any of my musical finds or faves. Drop in and have a listen.