Setting out to keep “rock and roll alive and kicking,” Plastic Rhino’s third EP, Recondition, does so in a nostalgic tone that is unmistakably ’90s, with its distorted guitar, anthemic tracks and rebellious spirit. The album challenges the social landscape of today, critiquing anything from its music too full of homogenized “hipster” sounds to the artificially constructed worlds of social media (as Track 3, ‘Like It’, laments the false self-portrayals of an artificial “world of smoke and mirrors where everything is lovely”) to our need to be electronically worshipped.
Atara Gottschalk appropriately expresses this frustration with her raw and expressive vocals, where the overproduced, auto-tune sounds of today have been left behind and replaced with dramatic melodic passages that complement the revolutionary themes in the album with a rawness and aggressiveness appropriate to the lyrical content. The band should be weary of its use of lyrical clichés, such as “hooked like a junkie,” which, at times, hinders the authentic quality the album is striving for. Nonetheless, the lyrics’ central criticisms of the modern world create a cohesive album threaded finely together with related themes.
The second track, ‘H2S’, is the album’s standout track, with its dark, moody tone, offering a quiet and contemplative space before the album returns to its familiar roar. Recondition strives to be a counterpoint to the music of today while simultaneously resurrecting the nostalgic sounds of a not-so-distant past, asking us to recondition ourselves in the process.