Plants & Animals are a Montreal-based indie rock trio that began playing together as kids. Touring arduously for about five years after their proper full-length debut in 2008, they pretty much made their records on the go until 2013. So the band’s decision to be slow, deliberate, and thorough on their latest offering, Waltzed In From The Rumbling, represents a major change of pace. Finally sleeping in their in own beds while recording, the band assembled the album over the course of nine seasons. It’s a return to their origins, but it also pushes audaciously forward.
The aesthetic varies wildly and wonderfully from track to track, each song having its own hermetic seal but somehow still melding cohesively as a body of work. Jangling guitars, drums leaning toward the off-kilter swing of J Dilla, found sounds, a hint of shoegaze, and unorthodox instrumentation come together to keep the ear constantly engaged with a feeling of constant evolution. They found an antique guiro next to a broken VCR and recorded both. They made an empty fridge sound like a timpani drum. They recorded gossip on a city bus. They brought in classical string flourishes. They sometimes left mistakes if they felt they were perfectly imperfect. It’s truly DIY, but with a feel of big production value that makes the album soar.
Contemplative lyrics anchor the album through all the exploratory wandering. The words are delivered melodically, belying their potency, but listening beyond the pretty aesthetic reveals piercing observations and an undeniable translation of feeling. The simplicity of the penetrating refrain on the three-part mini opus “Je Voulais Te Dire” is a paragon of how the lyrics effortlessly cut through the instumentation. Guitarist/vocalist Warren Spicer sings “It’s only love, but you want it bad,” encompassing how we try to avoid and downplay our desire for love and affection, but ultimately search and long for it anyway.
Here’s what drummer Woody Matthew Woodly had to say about the album:
We toured the life out of our material, our manager left the business to work for the Prime Minister of Canada, our record contract was up, and nobody was expecting anything of us anytime soon—including ourselves. So we went to the studio every couple of months for these four-or-five day recording blitzes, just the three of us, and tried whatever anyone wanted to try. This stretched out over three years or so. We didn’t tour, we had kids, we lost people we loved, we got deep into happiness and sadness and that great place where the two don’t even think about living without each other. We built songs from the music up and messed around with them until we felt like they were right. We reset.
This album is beautifully and thoughtfully constructed, and simply a joy to listen to. Stream it in its entirety below.
05/06: Winooski, VT – Waking Windows Music & Arts Festival
05/10: Washington, DC – DC9
05/11: Philadelphia, PA – Johnny Brenda’s
05/13 Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade
05/14 Boston, MA @ Great Scott
05/17 Pittsburgh, PA @ Club Cafe
05/18 Louisville, KY @ Zanzabar
05/19 Columbus, OH @ The Basement
05/31 London, UK @ The Hoxton
06/02 Paris, FR @ Espace B
06/05 Toronto, ON @ Field Trip
06/08 Chicago, IL @ Schubas
06/09 Minneapolis, MN @ 7th St. Entry
06/10 Winnipeg, MB @ The Good Will Social Club
06/11 Saskatoon, SK @ Amigo’s
06/13 Edmonton, AB @ Starlite Room
06/14 Calgary, AB @ Marquee Room
06/15 Nelson, BC @ Spiritbar at the Hume Hotel
06/16 Vancouver, BC @ The Imperial Theatre
06/17 Victoria, BC @ Sugar Nightclub
06/18 Seattle, WA @ Sunset Tavern
06/21 Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios
06/23 San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill
06/24 Los Angeles, CA @ Bootleg Theater
Waltzed In From The Rumbling is out 4/29 via Secret City Records. Pre-order it here.