My favorite albums are the ones that sneak up on me. The slow growers that don’t make an impact at first, but slowly seep in. Canada’s Plants and Animals released The End of That back in February and it filled up all the little cracks and broken splinters of my life for the rest of the year. The album filled all those spare moments in airports, on planes, in hotels, or at home while doing yard work. I’d somehow put the album on without thinking about it and later wonder why I was so drawn to it.
Here I am, almost seven months since it’s release, and The End of That has become one of my favorite albums of the year. Much like White Denim’s D, released last year, Plants and Animals have an ability to craft some seriously complex tunes (Crisis!) but they don’t overdue it throughout an entire album. Those jammy experimental tunes where electric guitars are the focus are offset by ballads like “No Idea” where Warren Spicer’s vocals are center stage and the electric guitar and piano serve as a backdrop.
Plants and Animals have played together for a decade and that experience shows in their albums and live performances. If you’re looking for hit radio singles, the closest track you’d find is “Lightshow,” but let’s be honest. Mainstream radio isn’t sophisticated enough to understand artists like Plants and Animals that don’t box themselves into the conventional confines of songwriting. They create texture and atmosphere in their music and their canvas is three dimensional. The lay listener won’t get chills in moments like at 1:33, 1:55 and 2:20 in the “Lightshow” video below when the electric guitar changes the course of the song. Or the slow build at 2:40 that slows things down to allow Spicer to breathe new life into the song before the band joins in with the “Oh-oh-oh-Ohhhhh” finish. I could call out similar details in the “Crisis!” session video, but we’d be here all day. That track is like 10 songs in one.
It’s in those finer details where Plants and Animals shine and where only those playing close attention can appreciate. I’m sure these flourishes and tempo changes are painful to arrange and rehearse and the songs could probably survive without them, but that’s what makes bands like Plants and Animals so compelling. I guess that’s the reason my subconscious is drawn to the album and it gets repeated play every month. There’s just so much to appreciate.