MEB’s debut album “Songs Made From Plastic” is 20 years old…

Photos by Carlos & Jason Sanchez (

Lou Reed must be proud. The Velvet Underground has been resurrected in the form of the Montreal underground. Although they hail from the Canadian culture capital, Mon Electric Bijou make music that seems to be written much more for Americans, particularly residents of New York City. The NYC of the 1970s, that is.

Maybe it’s escapism from today’s moldy melodies, or maybe all trends really do come around a generation later. But since the Velvet Underground never really were considered trendy, it must be the former. Although it sounds strikingly similar to what was cutting edge 25 or 30 years ago, Mon Electric Bijou worships the heroin/punk era, not in a celebratory way like The Strokes, but in an elegiac manner, mourning the loss of culture that produced evolutionary music like The Kinks and The Stooges. And rather than simply pay tribute to the foundations laid by such legends, Mon Electric Bijou actually builds upon them. For every guitar chord you’ve heard before, there’s a unique phrasing that you most certainly have not.

From the opening notes of “Murder Your Love”, one is sucked in to the sonic wasteland that is Songs Made From Plastic. Wasteland in the sense of wilderness, however, not used-up landfill acreage. That is not to say the music is perfect. It’s just rather undeveloped. Although the album was mostly recorded in a respectable studio, there is a distinct garage-quality rawness about it.

Indeed, the aptly titled “Dial ‘R’ for Raw” was recorded on 4-track. But all the songs retain this sense of newness and in fact, many tunes, like “Love is the Face”, for instance, are quite pristine. However, Songs Made From Plastic is not exactly cheerful, and it’s this underlying melancholy that makes the album difficult to like.

Not for nothing, though, one must appreciate liner note credits to underground king Robert Pollard of Guided By Voices and MC5’s “Kick Out The Jams”, and be apt to believe this band, too, could be something that matters.

—-Alicia Koledin, 2002

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