Review : Plants and Animals - The End of That
PitchforkNo matter where Plants and Animals went on their first two LPs, they always came bearing good vibes: If Arcade Fire had set out to make Barbecue instead of Funeral, it might've sounded like the trio's 2008 debut, Parc Avenue, perhaps the last hurrah of shambling, collectivist Canadian indie rock as we came to know it last decade. And while follow-up La La Land traded the requisite Montreal orchestration for Hollywood namedrops ("Tom Cruz", "American Idol", "Kon Tiki"), there was a still a Lebowski-like insouciance to it, a projection from a place where beards and beer flowed equally free. Point being I never thought that whether Plants and Animals were good dudes was up for debate, but while The End of That doesn't go too far beyond the La La Land DMZ between indie folk and jam-band, they've got some dark and heavy shit on their minds this time out-- they attempt to take unsparing inventory, offer sincere amends, and confront the responsibilities of adulthood. But the unyielding geniality of the music and slackjawed lyrics show a band either unwilling or unable to commit to its own emotional ballast or offer a sense of real stakes, the result of which is The End of That confusing a bummy hangover with a full-blown existential crisis.
In a vacuum, it's admirable that Plants and Animals are finding inspiration in a life pivot that doesn't get much play in rock music: The characters in these songs are still partying and waking up on friends' couches, only now they come to while their buddy's wife is making breakfast for the kids. That's essentially the lyrical thread running through the title track, "Crisis!", and "No Idea", the three songs here which most explicitly delineate the titular catch-all of "that." On "The End of That", Warren Spicer admits, "I tried the cocaine just to know what it could do/ I had to try it again just to give it a second chance," and the mundanity of it is actually rather bold for a topic that often results in exploitative oversharing or impenetrable metaphor. But as soon as you want to pull up to Spicer's barstool, he loses the plot, referring to an object of affection as a "fucked-up bumblebee/ Headed for the potpourri," and continuing to spit game from there: "You turn me on so with your bee-sting lips/ And your pepper-grinder hips/ Like a thread in the needle/ We're just typical people/ We're hoping to be friends and do cool stuff and be equal." It's frankly pretty impressive how many different linguistic devices are used for the same cringeworthy effect....full text
TheowlmagSince the release of La La Land, the band’s second album in 2010, Plants and Animals have obviously lived, loved, and lost a little along the way, and The End of That amalgamates all the tales and lessons learned into a collection of songs that shows how confident they are as a band. When I say “confident,” I mean that in a very positive, they-know-what-they’re-doing-and-how-to-do-it kind of way. The band took a step back and found a way to blend the distinctively different styles of their two previous albums into a more intimate album that will definitely attract new fans as well as keep the hard cores happy.
The trio from Montreal, Quebec put in a lot of work and grinded out a lot of songs before heading into La Frette Studios near Paris. Lyrically, they can tell a hell of a story while tossing around images of “postcard illusions” and making comparisons to a “fucked up bumblebee heading for the potpourri,” while being just as good at belting out an anthem like “Crisis!” almost creating a chant with the chorus “somewhere between a crisis and a pretty good time.”...full text
BowlegsmusicWhen opener Before gently eases in with its rounded acoustic flavour, it feels like alt-country man Ryan Adams has been donating some of his recent work overflow to Canada’s Plants & Animals. And that is a criticism. Did I imagine Parc Avenue? It was only two albums back right?
OK so End of That does have some moments worth talking about. The aggressive strum and short and sharp rhythm crash on Lightshow demonstrates the Montreal group aren’t quite a modern day Eagles just yet. But I can sense a showdown with Blitzen Trapper on the horizon.
Things get noisy on the giant rock, chord-smashing 2010, but it feels slowed by a sludge of mid-tempo maturity. Even the change of direction halfway through cannot save its overblown cries.
Why & Why takes off, here we go, the bass drum pedal hitting hard as the guitars roll it out in an urgent manner. Frontman Warren C Spicer does some fine speed-talking too. It reminds us of the band’s sense of adventure caught so well on Parc Avenue....full text
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