Plaitum

Plaitum are Matt Canham and Abi Dersiley who released their debut album 'Constraint' in 2016.

In 2012, when the pair were still in their teens, their track “Geisha” got snapped up for a compilation by French tastemakers du jour Kitsuné. Attention gathered, and they caught the ear of Paul Epworth who signed them to his Wolf Tone label (home to Glass Animals and Rosie Lowe). Their self-titled debut EP followed in 2015, and the Jagwa EP the next year. Now, Plaitum are gearing up to release their debut album Constraint, due out out April 7.
If Constraint sounds mature beyond its years, it’s because the experiences that went into it are not ones you often hear expressed within strange pop songs by twenty-somethings. As high school misfits dealing with bullying and homophobia, and then young adults dealing with depression and toxic relationships, Matt and Abi leant on each other as friends while purging their problems through songwriting. Taking Abi’s love of metal and Matt’s grounding in hip-hop and soul, the pair found common ground in witch house – taking its eerie aesthetic and whipping it into something uniquely their own. The result is innovative electronic music that combines the brutal decomposition of Crystal Castles, the slick seductiveness of Purity Ring and vocals that land somewhere between Lana Del Rey’s breathy urgency and the abstraction of heavier bands like Lacuna Coil. Littered with huge, piercing synths, skittish beats and irresistible pop melodies, Constraint twists and turns its way through twelve self-contained narratives that, together, tell a larger tale. “The album itself is vaguely conceptual in that it tells the story of an exploitative relationship,” Matt says, “but more made up of different stories pushed together to tell one story of that relationship.” Split into three parts separated by interludes, Constraint begins by introducing an unbalanced relationship in “Reeling” – a song about celebrity stalking and unrequited obsession – and works its way towards “Still In The Water”, in which the narrator realises the relationship is doomed and attempts to find closure. Between that are moments of climatic release (“Yearning”), one night stands (“Ovation”) and trying to make do in the aftermath of a break-up (“Sway”). The final song, “Eagle”, has a mood all of its own. Spacious and uplifting in comparison to the rest of the album, it gives the impression of coming out of a K-hole with your head above water for the first time, feeling safe. As a whole, Constraint brings a theatrical style and presentation to pop that has more in common with Marilyn Manson than Lady Gaga, but remains accessible on a wider level.
With opaque lyrics and Abi’s honeyed vocals distorted or disguised by abrasive walls of sound, Plaitum are constantly lifting up veils to reveal more veils, never quite giving you a concrete idea of where you stand. Pointing to books like John Fowles’ The Collector – another story of obsession and kidnapping – as influences on their songwriting, some tracks that on first listen sound uplifting have a dark subject matter, constantly challenging the listener to weigh up their primal responses to the music itself with the twisted tales hidden in the lyrics. “We’ve always been set on hiding dark, sadistic fucked up stories in pop,” Abi says, “Trying to portray stuff in a way that people don’t realise they’re listening to something that’s based on a bad experience or Ted Bundy or whatever. To explain every song would be missing the point... it’s like a joke, almost. It makes people feel kind of dirty, in a way.” Written over the space of a year, with Epworth helping them to refine and push the tracks to their limit, Constraint takes Plaitum’s howling-at-the-moon aesthetic and flips the romance into something chaotic, like Kate Bush caught in an electrical storm. Whether it’s adding a massive wailing Phil Collins-esque guitar solo on the end of “Yearning” or adding in samples that sound like a woman strutting in stilettos but is actually Matt in a pair of old Adidas trainers, Constraint is as playful as it is thoughtful. It’s dark, conceptual and intelligent breed of pop that keeps one foot in production-heavy albums like The Weeknd’s House of Balloons while reaching forward to big, pop heights. It’s a river rarely straddled, but having packed so much life experience into a rich, unique album at such a young age, Plaitum might just be the ones to make it theirs.