Arts & Culture

Plants and Animals: An electric example of art-rock4 min read

The Montreal based trio, Plants and Animals, are back with their fifth studio album; an electric example of art-rock surrounding existential dread.

Rating: 3.5/5

Stand out song: ‘Love That Boy’

Released on October 23 via Secret City Records, ‘The Jungle’ is the follow up to Plants and Animals’ acclaimed album ‘Waltzed in from the Rumbling’. The album features eight songs each reflecting on different woes of life, ranging from fears of climate change to the mourning of a loved one.

The band has been playing together for 20 years, emerging on the indie scene in 2008. ‘The Jungle’ differs from previous work, embracing 80’s sounding synths and an art-rock sound similar to that of Arcade Fire, Tame Impala, and The Killers’ ‘Hot Fuss’ era. Overall, there is a mismatch of instruments working together to create a jangled and bright sound that somehow works. A kazoo even features on the albums single release; ‘Le Queens’, however, it must be said that this particular ‘instrument’ is far more suited to a children’s party than an indie record.

Each of the eight songs is intended to be different. While the lyrics certainly differ, the sound does not, with each track using a combination of synths, electric drums, and heavy bass. While this is not necessarily negative as the sound compliments all three member’s voices and creates an overall fun and retro sound, it is ironic that the album described by the band as “eight acts in a world of noise”, is simply one single sound style. It feels pretentious rather than ground-breaking.

The intention behind this album seems to be that Plants and Animals wanted to create something totally unique and different, and on the surface, this hasn’t been achieved. Nevertheless, here is a dive into each of the ‘eight acts’ and a breakdown of what makes them unique.

The Jungle

The title track and first introduction to the band’s new sound. The overall vibe has tribal energy to it and the opening beats are similar to crickets chirping, immersing the listener in what feels like a real jungle. The intro is long with echoes of laughter which feels taunting and suits the overall theme of lyrics which seem to question one’s ability to handle modern life.

Love That Boy

Moving from life to death, the second track focuses on band member Warren Spicer mourning his father and is about reconnecting with his deceased parents. The track is much slower than the previous and uses a more traditional drum and guitar sound. It’s a private and intimate affair surrounding childhood memories and the evolution of the family as time goes on. Perhaps this can be considered the best track of the album; it is unique because it is so perfectly personal, yet relatable for all.

House On Fire

A poppy, energetic track about a friend falling succumb to addiction. This track nostalgic of

00’s electronic indie and bands such as MGMT. It’s fun and danceable contrasting the darker message of desperation.  It can also be interpreted as a metaphor for climate change- the earth is the house on fire and yet we do nothing.

Sacrifice

An intense and heavy guitar runs throughout the track. It is dreamy and hypnotic, questioning what people are willing to put up with for feelings of love and acceptance. The song is tense and brooding with the lyric “I gave you the best years of my life” repeated throughout suggesting that as a society we are too giving and need to learn our own boundaries.

Get My Mind

This track again deals with loss, choosing to focus on inheritance. How what you inherit is not worth losing the person. Like ‘Love That Boy’, the sound is guitar-centered which gives the song a more emotional and dreamier feel.

Le Queens

Performed in a combination of French and English by vocalist Adéle Thottier-Rivard, ‘Le Queens’ stems from a night out in Queens, New York. The sound is soft and beautiful, reminiscent of falling in and out of love, from dancing with strangers to becoming strangers.

In Your Eyes

Another intimate track where Nic Basque tries to reassure his son about climate change. Basque takes the lead vocal on this track. He directly addresses his son’s worries, but still tries to let him go to live his own life. It shows the struggle of parenthood; protecting your child, but also having to let them go.

Bold

The final track is a thought on age. Accepting the fact, we grow old. The verses are slow and gentle, guiding the listener through, while the chorus is strong and unified. The band singing together shows that perhaps we are not alone, and we go through the cycle of life and death.

Final thoughts

‘The Jungle’ is bright, catchy, and fun with meaningful lyrics. However, I feel I cannot give it a rating higher than 3.5 as it does not fulfill its aim. The album was intended to be different and unique, yet it in fact fits neatly alongside other established indie acts. Ironically, it is hard to be individual in an indie scene where much of the music produced sounds the same.

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