By Dylan Toigo
Montreal rockers Plants and Animals will play Victoria’s Lucky Bar March 20 in support of its recently released album The End of That, a modern take on retro rock that considers the freedoms and follies of entering adulthood.
In a recent interview with Absolutepunk.net, Drummer Matthew Woodley called The End of That a “coming of age record – coming of age again.” The new record inspects transition and delves into the beginnings and endings consistent with a phase of life when, as one track on the album puts it, “everyone is getting married or breaking up.”
The album, for the most part, is filled with guitar-driven rock music flecked with sounds of the past. Title track “The End of That,” gives a country-infused backbeat to lead-singer/guitarist Warren Spicer’s vintage vocal delivery of conversational lyrics like, “we’re hoping to be friends, and do cool stuff, and be equal, I think that’s where it’s at.”
Album-ender “Runaways,” swells and shifts with dramatic fluidity reminiscent of Canadian rock legends Tragically Hip. The ringing distortion of the guitar and the sporadic, heavy-hitting drums provide an expansive presence that fills the song’s five-minute frame fairly comfortably.
Unfortunately, other long songs on The End of That lack the necessary proportions to do the same. Both “Crisis!” and “2010” are good songs at their core. They also span over six minutes a piece. The former slips from a catchy, chopped-up groove-rock riff into a build up of echoey vocals and guitar accents but fails to climax convincingly. In the latter, the erratic and explosive atmosphere provides an undeniable momentum that pulls you in, but, after a clean ending, it springs back to life and goes on for another two and half minutes. It’s like when acquaintances finish an engaging conversation and both turn to walk the same direction and realize they have nothing left to talk about.
The rest of the new record satisfies with a mix of simple, shimmying rhythms and wavering melodies that hint at an end-of-my-rope realness. The opening guitar riff of “Why & Why” creates instant movement before the full band joins in and thrusts the song into an urgent pace that never lets up. Spicer’s voice becomes increasingly frantic as the song propels itself towards a gratifying culmination of desperate, guttural vocals and a frenetic flush of guitars and drums.
Lead single “Lightshow,” revolves around a singular guitar hook which acts as a framework for the rest of the song to build on and dismantled in varying degrees. Once again, Woodley’s drumming creates an aura of reckless abandon that lead guitarist Nicolas Basque compliments with splashes of fuzzy strumming and a short-but-sweet solo.
The End of That is the band’s third full-length and they have a strong catalogue to draw from for the upcoming Victoria show. Plants and Animals has evolved since its 2007 debut Parc Avenue, but simply put, it’s a rock band that plays rock concerts. March 20 at Lucky Bar will be just that.