New Music Review: Plants and Animals — The End of That

There are albums that come along every once in a while that make you feel different.

They make your mouth water.  They take you places.

They keep you coming back for more and can’t get played out.

They don’t come around that often, though, as each individual has particular, specific tastes that only a small handful of albums in a decade, say, will capture all of their musical taste buds and serve these delicacies to said individual on a silver platter.

These rarest of combinations, when they do surface, must be examined, explored, experienced and—most importantly—shared.

That’s how I felt about a particular album when I started this blog nearly two years ago, and it’s how I feel about the album I’m writing about today.  That album is called The End of That and it’s the third studio LP by Montréal’s Plants and Animals.

The first effort by this lovely trio was called Parc Avenue and brought us gems such as Bye Bye ByeGood Friend and New Kind of LoveThis debut was an experimental folk indie-type of rock that bordered on progressive at times, with many tracks clocking in between 5 to 8 minutes in length.

Their previous effort, La La Land spawned radio success with The Mama Papa, and possessed some mesmerizing slow-rock with Tom CruzSwinging Bells and Jeans Jeans Jeans.  The band forayed into the land of electric guitars and faster tempos (American Idol, The Mama Papa), as well, to many fans of Parc Avenue‘s dismay.

The reason I give this back story is due to the fact that The End of That takes the best elements of Parc Avenue and La La Land, adds a few new elements, and kicks your ass with pure, awesome sound.

The album opens with a track called Before that harks back to the days of their debut, laden with beautiful acoustic guitars, gentle vocals and angelic harmonies.  A great representation of the band from, simply, before.

Following up the album-opener is the title track, The End of That.

Fair warning: this is the most obscure tune I’ve heard by these fellows in the way that it isn’t very obscure at all.  And I mean that in the best possible way of all possible ways.  Warren Spicer‘s vocals are gruff and smokey and his lyrics are brutally honest and tangible packed with a Dylan-esque appeal.  The track is riddled with fantastic lead guitar tones that are undeniably groovy and fit the tune’s whimsical attitude perfectly.

The next two tracks—Song For Love and Lightshow—are among the best work the band has done to date, in my humble opinion.  It’s difficult to put their perfection to words, so I’ll just give you the first lines from each tune:

  • “Sittin’ in the sun, blowin’ smoke and talkin’ shit with no reason.” — Song For Love 
  • “I was cut open on the way down, reelin’ from the blow. You were there on the other line in between the tears and the lightshow.” — Lightshow

I’ve always admired the way Spicer has been able to put the most intrinsic, raw human experiences on paper and make them so compelling and beautiful.

Crisis! begins with some easy words and a dissonant guitar riff and expands into a ’70s prog rock jam towards the end.  The essence of the chorus of “Somewhere between a crisis and a really good time” is matched only by the intensity of the jam.

2010 carries over from La La Land‘s mixture of time signatures and repeating slightly distorted guitar hooks blended together majestically.  Another gem.

The shortest tune on the album is the 52 second-long H.C.  I wish this idea had been expanded upon as it’s got a cool 7/4 (or is it 7/8??) time signature accompanied by some acoustic guitar plucking reminiscent of MGMT’s Weekend Wars.

Why & Why is the arguably the most up-tempo rocking tune on the album that weaves acoustic strums with frantic guitar riffs and vocals.

The last three tunes on the album are three very different tunes, but they wrap up the album nicely.  Control Me brings Spicer’s vocal style of La La Land to the forefront, sung over yet another catchy guitar riff and guided by Matt Woodley’s percussive prowess.  No Idea is the first time I’ve heard piano used by Plants and Animals so effectively since Bye Bye Bye—if at all—and once again, done so very well.  This is another tune I feel could have been a little longer as only 2 minutes and 35 seconds just isn’t enough.

The very last track, Runaways, may be the most epic (sorry) tune—and fittingly so—on this fantastic LP.  The intro has an eastern tinge to it that subtly carries through the entire track.  Again, slightly distorted guitar tones dance over fantastic drumming and soaring melodies.

This, I like. I like a lot.

-Dylan

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~ by whet_hopped on March 17, 2012.

One Response to “New Music Review: Plants and Animals — The End of That”

  1. Great review! The only issues is that I tried to youtube “plants and animals before” and got this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhGPIH1KObE

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