Single Review: Plan B – ‘The Recluse’

The phrase “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”, has a lot more naturally occurring truth than meets the eye. As well as being just about the most ill-informed, easily applied ‘proverb’ that does very little to realise some humans actually have a temper, it does speak some truth. But what is most interesting, is that just by saying it, you’re implying that there’s always a chance you’re first attempt at something new won’t be as successful as you’d hoped, and the antidote the failure would be to “try, try again”.

Weeks before it’s release, Plan B stated that his second album, ‘The Defamation Of Strickland Banks’, would be “an experimental soul album”. This sets him up for the proverb aforementioned very nicely, but what was probably not so nice was the fact that the “experiment” was most certainly “an experiment”… if that experiment was carried out in a primary school classroom with plastic scissors and Pritt stick. So basically, it was all good fun but the results were all over the place (though thankfully, there was a lot more good than bad).

At times, Plan B was an utterly convincing soul singer, conveying emotion and angst with every syllable as his poor throat reluctantly strained itself to reach those high notes. But at others, his rough background, hard-nosed attitude and morphed Cockney dialect broke through far too obviously, and not just whilst he was rapping.

‘The Recluse’ is one of those moments where, whilst there is plenty of attitude, Ben (Plan B) nails the delicate balance needed for an upbeat, frustrated soul song, drenched in acrobatic strings, furiously speeding up and down in pitch, while Ben sings another set of poignant lyrics about a man driven to reclusion.

In the chorus, he shows his gritty side, dropping his ‘L’s and replacing compound sounds like ‘Th’ for a simple ‘D’: he storms into the song with “Oh yeah dey caur me duh recluse”, signalling the strings to come in and accompany him through a swirling production. But in the verses, he skips along like angered bull, with the emotional confusion of… well… a recluse. He balances it perfectly, especially on the line “Why don’t you leave me alone”, where he actually sounds like he’s just broken down crying. Poor thing. Not to be laughed at, Plan B quickly resumes his rapper’s roots, summing up the whole song in one single rap, and is it just me, or is he the only mainstream British artist that would ever get away with rapping the word “goon”? Jedward tried it, and failed. But mind you, keep an eye out for someone called Ed Drewett – he says “goon” in his début single ‘Champagne Lemonade’, but I’m still debating that one. Watch this space.

The brilliant video is brilliant, brilliantly.

Wasn’t that good? NO. IT WASN’T. It was brilliant.

Seeing as his album his sold a bucket load this year, ‘The Recluse’ maybe find it hard to even outperform my favourite so far, ‘Prayin” (#16), but that doesn’’t mean it isn’t good. It’s one of his best singles to date, neatly marrying poignancy and aggression into a 4-minute long track with a surplus of scaling strings and his voice showing more desperation for release than ever before.

Well done, Plan B.

Rating: 4.5 STARS

Download: October 4, 2010

Featured Album: ‘The Defamation Of Strickland Banks’

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