Plants and Animals

The End of That

Secret City

Feb 26, 2012 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Over its last two albums, Montréal trio Plants and Animals grew from lush, folk-inspired songwriters to more experimental, rock 'n' roll animals. For as light, airy, and nuanced as 2008's Parc Avenue was, 2010's La La Land was in equal measure in your face and electrified. Plants and Animals' latest album largely splits the difference between those two albums. The most notable similarity to Parc Avenue is the fact that The End of That is largely acoustic guitar based. The album opener "Before" is a gentle folk number enhanced by delicate strumming, and the title track is a loping country-pop number that recalls The Traveling Wilburys and Tom Petty. The band continues to embrace its more electrified side in places such as the blistering solos of "Lightshow," the soft-loud dynamic of "Why & Why," and the chugging riffery underneath the winding guitars of "Runaways." Once a somewhat reluctant singer, Warren Spicer has become even more confident in his singular voice, and the vocal melodies here are as strong as they were on La La Land.

     The biggest difference from both Parc Avenue and La La Land is that The End of That is, for better or worse, the most straightforward album Plants and Animals has made yet. There are no lushly textured workouts like on Parc Avenue. The swing and soul of such La La Land songs as "Kon Tiki" and "The Mama Papa" are gone. With the exception of the strangely Lou Reed-esque outlier "Crisis!," The End of That conforms more to typical structures and rock feel. That's not to say this is a bad thing. Songs such as the brutal "2010" are some of the best of the band's career. But whereas the band excels at both the gentle and the electric, it was the more eccentric accents that provided the necessary counterpoint. And while The End of That features more wonderful song craft, that counterpoint is sorely missed. (www.plantsandanimals.ca)

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