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Plants and Animals - Waltzed In From The Rumbling (Review)

Plants and Animals, Waltzed in From The Rumbling

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

MONTREAL based and Polaris-Prize nominated artist Plants and Animals have delivered their most ambitious collection of songs yet, drawing favourable comparisons with everyone from Radiohead to Bowie.

Waltzed In From The Rumbling is an eclectic offering that very much reflects the way in which it was recorded. Since their most recent LP, 2012’s The End of That, the band have begun families and took the time to slow down.

Hence, they removed time constraints from their process in a bid to reconnect with the honesty and autonomy of music created without pressure. As vocalist Warren Spicer states: “It was more like an art studio than a recording studio… A mess, pieces of songs all over the place. We had this big canvas and were constantly filling in corners here, erasing there, repainting that part, standing back and looking at the whole picture to see what we had.”

Put a different way, the new album embodies the raw musicianship characteristic of the group, but also injects symphonic crescendos, lyrical balladry and metamorphic song developments.

It means songs seldom stand still for long or settle into one particular groove. They’re experimental at times, pushing the boundaries. But yet always careful to remain melodic and radio friendly.

And the comparisons don’t come lightly. Album opener We Were One, for instance, starts with a ferocious piano chord, before dropping a bluesy guitar riff and toe-tapping back-beat and coming over all psych-rock. But then Spicer starts singing and the comparisons with Radiohead abound.

By the time you reach the chorus, however, there’s a touch of ’70s Starman Bowie about it… and then, even more surprisingly, the symphonies kick in, elevating the track to something altogether more different. If it’s tricky to get a handle on, then that’s intentional – and it’s guaranteed to get them noticed.

On current single No Worries Gonna Find Us, on the other hand, insistent rhythms combine with a couple of cute electronic and guitar hooks and some falsetto vocals to create another strangely compelling record… and one that could even bear vague comparisons with UK acts such as Travis and Snow Patrol for the way in which it is meticulously constructed, emotion-led and layered.

Stay, similarly, compels you to “look inside your heart” and contains a strong emotional undertow. But instrumentally, it opens in acoustic folk form before taking an electric turn and exploding in sound, tempo, instrumentation and depth. The guitars and glockenspiel chimes that accompany it are also inspired, creating an exciting instrumental backdrop that continues to improve with each listen.

And these aren’t even necessarily the best tracks! All of The Time, for instance, lays down some of the most invigorating drum beats on the record, complete with a chiming piano chord, and some more Thom Yorke-style vocals. It’s brooding and exciting.

Flowers, in contrast, has a hazy, breezy ’70s summer of love type vibe that’s utterly intoxicating right from the moment the lush guitar hooks kick in. While Je Voulais te Dire underlines the shape-shifting nature of the LP as a whole with a track that continues to evolve in ever more thrilling and complex ways – mixing horns, dusky Cohen-style vocals with trippy ’70s bass-lines and more besides.

Not every track succeeds and there are moments that almost inevitably feel a little more self-satisfied than others. But in the main, Plants and Animals have created a genuinely intriguing, often beautiful album that defies easy categorisation – but begs swift praise.

Download picks: We Were One, All Of The Time, Flowers, Je voulais te dire

Track listing:

  1. We Were One
  2. No Worries Are Gonna Find Us
  3. Fata Morgana
  4. Stay
  5. All of the Time
  6. So Many Nights
  7. Flowers
  8. Je Voulais Te Dire
  9. Off the Water
  10. Johnny Is a Drummer
  11. Pure Heart