Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: Plants and Animals, Parc Avenue

Plants and Animalsare hard to categorize.  They hail from Montreal and, like many of the bands from that city such as Arcade Fire and Malajube, they ignore musical genre in favor of playing whatever type of music suits the needs of the song.  Parc Avenue opens with a warbly falsetto accompanied by solo piano that leads you to think you might have mistakenly bought an album by another self-absorbed singer-songwriter who thinks his insecurities typify the human condition.  However, the song quickly morphs into a multi-instrument, vocal choir driven anthem.  When the second song opens with a big-sky western lope that has almost nothing in common with the song you just heard you know you’re in for a wild ride.

At one point or another over the course of Parc Avenue we get wah-wah guiter leads, whistleing, exuberant jump-rope chants a la’ the Go! Team, string, brass and reed sections and several choirs.  No matter where a song starts, it ends someplace different.  Although instrumentation can change radically, Animals and Plants seem to have a fondness for propulsive driving jams ( “Feedback in the Fields”, “Mercy”, “Guru”) and they do them well.  They also like big choruses sung by a lot of people. 

Plants and Animals’ wide range of musical styles has its drawbacks.  The band doesn’t have a clearly defined sound that makes them instantly identifiable.  More damaging is that at times the variety seeems forced as if the goal is more to stick something in the song that’s different than to make coherent music.  In addition their varied sonic palatte puts high demands on their sound engineers and at times the recording is muddy and cluttered.

Plants and Animals’ reach exceeds their grasp but if a band’s going to make a mistake, that’s a good one to make.  They’re not trying to be another one just like the other on that moved lots of units at Best Buy last month and they’re not endlessly exploring a tiny space where they feel comfortable.  They’re exuberant and fearless.  Not everything works but listening to them try out this and that is never less than interesting.  If you’ve got open ears and don’t demand consistency of style in an album, you might well like Parc Avenue .


08/02/2008 - Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews | , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. I’m still listening to ‘No Cars Go’-Arcade Fire. It’s so triumphant and magical I want to cry and cheer! I’ll check this out for sure!

    Comment by ElGuappa | 11/21/2008 | Reply

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