Return to Plumb

Plumb entered the music scene in 1997 with her dark but intriguing alt rock self-titled debut. Life has changed in many ways for Plumb since then - from switching labels and changing band members, to getting married and, last year, becoming a mother. Her long anticipated, much delayed fourth studio release, Chaotic Resolve is an edgier project than her more subdued 2003 release Beautiful Lumps Of Coal, revisiting the more rock-influenced sounds she started out with.

Plumb's music has remained anything but stagnant, progressing with each album over the past nine years. Her sophomore release Candycoatedwaterdrops took a step in a more pop-friendly direction from Plumb, before blossoming fully into the radio single-laden Beautiful Lumps Of Coal. Through the progressions her sound has endured from album to album, the edge and aggression of her debut diminished, making her sound more accessible for new fans, but left a void for those who enjoyed her humble beginnings. Chaotic Resolve is basically the best of both worlds. Merging the pop elements of her recent works with a darker edge from her earlier offerings, Chaotic Resolve is an electronic-glazed pop/rock record that sounds fresh and modern while giving a little wink and a nod to the old fans. Because of these stylistic shifts, some less knowledgeable listeners may even be tempted to draw comparisons to Evanescence's Amy Lee in listening to this record, not realizing Lee has cited Plumb as always being an inspiration for her own sound.

Plumb's music has been centered around relationships since the beginning, often addressing tough issues such as abuse, neglect, breakups, adultery, and most prominently on Chaotic Resolve, cutting. "Cut" is an emotional highlight, a piano ballad that meets those struggling with the self-inflicted pain right where they're at. "I Can't
Do This," the album's first single that has been impacting radio since early last year, is a more aggressive rock track that serves as a blatant admittance of dependency on God. But despite these and other tracks like "Manic" and "Good Behavior," lighter themes do exist on the album, much in the same vein as songs from Beautiful Lumps Of Coal. "Blush (Only You)," the album's opener, and "Real Life Fairytale" are both infectious pop anthems about being in love, while "Motion," the ugly duckling of Chaotic Resolve is a somewhat out-of-place club friendly dance number that bests most any of its mindless secular market alternatives. Other highlights include the rock tracks "Better," "Good Behavior," and the lullaby closer "Sleep."

Chaotic Resolve is a wonderful addition to Plumb's impressive catalog of music. Her songs has always cut a little deeper than most in similar genres and this album is no different. It's fresh, it's emotional, it's sensitive, and it just so happens to offer some of Plumb's strongest material to date.

- Review date: 2/26/06, written by John DiBiase