Plants and Animals

La La Land

Secret City

Apr 21, 2010 Issue #30 - Winter 2010 - Vampire Weekend Bookmark and Share


Plants and Animals' last album, 2008's Parc Avenue, was one of the year's best, a pastoral pastiche of '70s-flavored folk-rock grooves, aided by strings and horns, that set a genuine, organic mood of laidback cool. Since releasing the album, the Montréal trio has toured almost constantly, playing over 150 shows in the States and abroad. Perhaps as a result, the band's new album possesses a distinctly more volatile, rougher-edged sound. Starting with driving guitar tension vaguely reminiscent of Neil Young, opener "Tom Cruz" sets the stage for an album that finds the band having expanded its sound and become more versatile, while retaining the dynamic songwriting smarts showcased on Parc Avenue. The hazy atmospherics of "Swinging Bells" segue seamlessly into the rhythmic pulse of "American Idol," with its danceable rock and roll vibe and mid-song saxophone solo. "Undone Melody" builds from Parc Avenue-like reverie to string-filled emotional catharsis, before the track's raucous disintegration at the six-minute mark. "Kon Tiki" is a good mid-album dose of swinging soul, and "The Mama Papa" threatens to run itself aground with propulsive rhythmic intensity and near-yelped vocals. While Warren Spicer was relatively new to singing on Parc Avenuethe band's earlier work was instrumentalhe sounds completely in his element here. And finally, the album ends, in exhilarating fashion, with a return to the Neil Young-esque guitar throwdown on "Jeans Jeans Jeans."

If there was anything negative to be said about the band's last album, it was that, despite the sonic beauty and intricate touches, all of the songs on the album tended to ride along on a similarly-textured vibe. La La Land blows that template sky high, expanding and expounding upon the band's sound in a way that is utterly thrilling while still retaining all the muted joy and gentle perfection of Parc Avenue. Which makes La La Land an album for the ages and Plants and Animals' ultimate piece of work thus far. (www.plantsandanimals.ca)

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 6/10



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Michael
April 30th 2010
11:55pm

Excellent review of the brilliant album. A musical
and poetic comment on American culture.
9 out of 10 from me.