Our top 10 Elastica songs list looks at the body of work of an English band formed by guitarist/vocalist Justine Frischmann in conjunction with drummer Justin Welch. Before Elastica, there was the Britpop band Suede, a band co-founded by Justine, bassist Mat Osman, and singer Brett Anderson. Drummer Justin Welch was also part of the 1990 Suede lineup. Justine and Brett had met at the University College London where she honed her musical skills playing the guitar.
However, the budding musicianship between Justine and Brett tumbled even before Suede put its best foot forward in the ruthlessly competitive Britpop scene. Justine’s fallout from Suede was compelled by her dissatisfaction with the role she played in the band—after all a new guitarist had been hired for the project. Guitarist/vocalist Justine went ahead to date Damon Albarn of the Britpop band Blur while establishing Elastica alongside the talented drummer Justin Welch.
In the ‘90s, the Britpop scene was considered a boy’s club with bands like Suede, Blur, Oasis, and Pulp battling it out for dominance. Of course, there existed several female-fronted groups that dared to define the Britpop scene, Elastica being one of them. However, Elastica tried to distinguish themselves by creating their own unique blend of sound influences. The band went ahead to blend hook-heavy new wave sensibilities and edgy punk rock influences in its Britpop sound. Did the move pay off? Well, let’s find out in our short review of the band’s albums as we introspectively take a look at the band’s legacy. As usual, we’ll ultimately sum it up with our top 10 Elastica songs list.
A Review of Album Issued by the Band Elastica
By the end of 1992, Elastica was a four-piece act ready to take on the music scene. New members added to the band’s lineup included guitarist/vocalist Donna Matthews and bassist Annie Holland. What followed was a definitive debut single in the year 1993 by the name “Stutter.” The song was pivotal to Elastica’s future having it attract the attention of Steve Lamacq of Deceptive Records.
Elastica would later become the most famous band signed by the now-defunct independent record label Deceptive Records. Other artists who featured on the Deceptive Records roster include Placebo, Idlewild, Angelica, and Collapsed Lung. After a string of successful singles, Elastica went ahead to issue their eponymous debut studio album. The album was co-produced by the band members alongside Marc Waterman. Marc has also worked with multiple artists including Ash, Dishwalla, and The Levellers.
Elastica was a massively successful record rising atop the Scottish and UK Albums Chart. The album was crowned UK’s fastest-selling debut LP in 1995 shuttering the record posted earlier by their contemporary Oasis with their record Definitely Maybe. This was a huge win, especially for Justine who in an interview once mentioned how “irritating” it was to be lumped in with other Britpop acts such as Oasis.
Elastica also made a fair attempt at capturing a large fanbase for the band in the US. The album would eventually settle for a peak position of number sixty-six on the Billboard 200 Chart. The Canadian market wasn’t bad either with Elastica settling for the thirty-first position on the Albums Chart. Elastica went ahead to earn gold certification in the UK, the US, and Canada. “Connection,” “Stutter,” Car Song,” “Line Up,” and “Waking Up” are some of the best Elastica songs from the band’s debut record.
With huge success comes a huge obligation to sustain the success and fame. Controversies came knocking at the band’s doors as Elastica ushered in glory in the music scene. The band was accused of plagiarism with some of its compositions likened to the bands Wire and The Stranglers. All these disputes were settled with the band hoping to replicate the success of its debut record.
However, fate had different plans! It all started with the reshuffles in the band’s lineup a move that saw the band delay its sophomore release. Justine Frischmann would also cut ties with her lover Damon Albarn. The romantic turmoil between the two was a source of inspiration for Blur’s massively successful record 13. On the other hand, Justine was almost languishing in obscurity.
Fast forward to 1999, Justine led Elastica in releasing a six-track extended play. The EP includes recordings from abandoned sessions. Eventually, the band would try to make up for the ‘lost time’ with its second studio album The Menace in 2000. The band co-produced this record alongside Bruce Lampcov (who worked with Simple Minds, The The, Thrashing Doves, and Bryan Ferry), Alan Moulder (who worked with Depeche Mode, Nine Inch Nails, and U2), and Marc Waterman.
Unfortunately, the band was unable to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump with the record The Menace. The album barely impressed in the mainstream only settling for the twenty-fourth spot in the UK Albums Chart. Elastica featured songs from the 1999 six-track EP in this record adding some classics such as “Mad Dog God Dam,” “Da Da Da,” and “Love Like Ours.” The band would later call it quits in 2001—its members went ahead to pursue different passions with Justine taking on art.
Despite issuing only two albums, Elastica remains a definitive band of the Britpop movement. As we mentioned earlier, the band’s eponymous debut LP rose to become the fastest-selling debut album in the UK. The success of the band’s debut album saw Elastica trounced the Britpop favorites Oasis, Blur, Pulp, and Suede (for some while though). Unfortunately, Elastica’s short escapade in success lasted for only so long—just like the Britpop scene.
We start our top 10 Elastica songs review with the impressive hit “2:1.” The song is among the few tracks whose lyrics are primarily credited to the band’s former guitarist Donna Matthews. “2:1) is featured on the track listing of the band’s 1995 eponymous debut studio album. This song is among the most energetic and catchy picks from the album. One of the greatest takeaways from this song is its pulsating basslines by Annie Holland.
Combine this with the impressive drumming by Justin Welch—the result is an irresistible driving rhythm section. Despite spanning slightly over two minutes, “2:1” remains one of the most memorable tracks featured on this album. The song was featured in the soundtrack of the 1996 film Trainspotting. Other artists who contributed to the soundtrack include Iggy Pop, Primal Scream, Sleeper, New Order, and Blur.
#9- Love Like Ours
“Love Like Ours” is one of the most sought-after post-Elastica songs by the band. The song was penned by Justine Frischmann and Donna Matthews. This track would be featured on the band’s sophomore studio album The Menace. “Love Like Ours” is quite a tremendous song—a masterpiece!
The only mishap with “Love Like Ours” was perhaps timing. By the time the band issued its sophomore album The Menace), the Britpop scene’s fortunes in the UK music scene were dwindling. As a result, the whole album barely got the attention it deserved. However, fans who craved more from Elastica rated songs like “Love Like Ours” highly.
#8- Car Song
The eighth spot on our top 10 Elastica songs list goes to the charming hit “Car Song.” “Car Song” was penned by Justine Frischmann and is featured on the band’s eponymous debut studio album. The song finds Justine giving us a taste of intimate musing—better stated, “Car Song” is an ode to getting intimate in a car.
While it failed to impress in the UK mainstream, “Car Song” was warmly received in the US where it rose to the thirty-third spot on the Billboard Alternative Songs Chart. A music video directed by Spike Jonze was issued in 1995. Spike has also directed music videos for songs by The Breeders, Luscious Jackson, Weezer, Daft Punk, Tenacious D, The Chemical Brothers, and R.E.M.
#7- Nothing Stays the Same
Change is inevitable as suggested by the title of the song “Nothing Stays the Same.” We couldn’t agree more with this—after all, life is dynamic and keeps on evolving with every tick of the clock. “Nothing Stays the Same’ showcases the band’s ability to churn out memorable songs whose relevance is timeless.
The song was penned by Justine Frischmann in conjunction with guitarist/vocalist Donna Matthews. “Nothing Stays the Same” sits at the seventh spot on the band’s sophomore album The Menace. Frischmann’s distinct vocals add an extra allure to this song.
#6- Line Up
Ranking sixth on our top 10 Elastica songs list is the spirited hit “Line Up.” The song was penned by singer Justine—the song was issued as the second single by the band in 1994 after the success of “Stutter.” “Line Up” would eventually be featured as the album-opening track to Elastica’s 1995 eponymous studio album. The song would become the band’s first single to make it to the Top 20 on the UK Singles Chart.
“Line Up” features samples of the 1978 hit “I Am the Fly” by the band Wire. The song gave Elastica their first appearance on the British music chart TV program Top of the Pops. “Line Up” went ahead to feature on the soundtrack of the 1995 comedy film Mallrats. The song is featured in the 2001 film Not Another Teen Movie (despite not making it to the final soundtrack album which featured songs from System of a Down, Marilyn Manson, Muse, and The Smashing Pumpkins).
#5- Da Da Da
During their short-lived tenure in the music scene, Elastica released a handful of tracks most of which were originally penned by the band members. Nevertheless, the band paid homage to the German band Trio in its sophomore album The Menace with the cover song “Da Da Da.” “Da Da Da” was the last (thirteenth) song on the track listing of the band’s sophomore effort The Menace. The song is one of the most sought-after tracks by the band Trio, having sold over thirteen million copies globally.
Elastica did a great job on the song “Da Da Da” if we are being honest! The solid interplay between catchy guitar riffs and the sizzling rhythm section is one of the remarkable takeaways from this track. Despite having parted ways with Justine, Damon Albarn of the band Blur was featured on the keyboards in this song, performing under the moniker Norman Balda.
A good start in the music scene is in most cases defined by having a magnificent debut single. Elastica enjoyed quite some success with their debut single “Stutter.” Thanks to this single, the band earned the attention of major record labels. “Stutter” had its lyrics penned by the band’s vocalist Justine Frischmann.
According to John Harris in his book The Last Party: Britpop, Blair and The Demise of English Rock, “Stutter” references Justine’s exasperation with the problem of drunken male impotence. “Stutter” is among the songs by Elastica that received rotation on MTV. The song climbed to the sixty-seventh spot on the Billboard Hot 100. “Stutter” is among the songs featured in the 1995 film Mad Love. Unfortunately, the song didn’t make it to the soundtrack of the film like Nirvana’s song “Love Buzz.”
#3- Mad Dog God Man
Ranking third on our top 10 Elastica songs list is the ravishing hit “Mad Dog God Man.” The song was penned by vocalist Justine Frischmann—the song was cited to be the result of her first stint at programming. “Mad Dog God Man” serves as the album-opening track to Elastica’s sophomore studio album The Menace. “Mad Dog God Dam” is a perfect emblem of Elastica’s signature blend of new-wave sensibilities and punk-inspired hooks.
The song’s catchy melody heavily relies on the brilliant guitar work by Donna and Justine. Additionally, “Mad Dog God Dam” features a driving rhythm section which is the genesis of its relentless energy. Elastica performed this song at the 2000 Glastonbury Festival.
#2- Waking Up
“Waking Up” is yet another impressive fan-favorite song by Elastica. The song was penned by Justine Frischmann featuring on the band’s eponymous debut studio album. However, English punk rockers The Stranglers are also credited as contributors to the composition of this song. The move was motivated by a lawsuit against Elastica for sampling the riff to the band’s 1977 hit “No More Heroes.”
Nevertheless, “Waking Up” rose to become Elastica’s highest-charting track in the UK Singles Chart where it reached the thirteenth spot. The song featured the contribution of Blur’s singer Damon Albarn on the keyboards. “Waking Up” was featured (though uncredited) in the 2016 documentary Oasis in Their Own Words.
At the peak of our top 10 Elastica songs list is the boisterous hit “Connection.” The song is the most sought-after track from the band’s eponymous debut studio album. “Connection” features samples of the 1977 hit “Three Girl Rhumba” by the band Wire. The song remains one of the archetypical Britpop tracks tinged with punk influences. “Connection” is by far the most successful hit by Elastica in the US.
“Connection” climbed into the Billboard Hot 100 where it peaked at number fifty-three. The song also made it to the seventeenth spot on the UK Singles Chart. “Connection” showcases the vocal dexterity of Justine Frischmann. The song’s music video was directed by David Mould. It stands as one of the most memorable MTV Videos of all time. Mould has also worked with multiple artists including Kylie Minogue, Radiohead, Bryan Adams, and Evanescence. “Connection” was used as the opening theme track to the TV series Trigger Happy TV.
Feature Photo: FLibra, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
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