Lightshow by Plants and Animals

photo credit: Caroline Desilets

I first saw (and heard of) Plants and Animals as part of a Pop Montreal Showcase at Guelph’s Hillside Festival in 2007. I remember them being a mostly instrumental guitar band. They were a very musical three-piece, and had lots of countermelody and acoustic noodling. They fleshed out these ideas out on their first full length Parc Avenue, which was a sparse affair. The seeds of their new sound was planted in songs like Faerie Dance, which built from softer beginnings into full on rave-ups by song’s end. Plants and Animals followed that record up with La La Land, an album startlingly full of songs ready for the dance floor. Extensive touring tends to turn even bedroom artists into party starters, and these guys are no exception. La La land was one of my favourite records to drive to of 2010. Standout tracks like American Idol, Kon Tiki, and The Mama Papa are still part of my rotation.
Lightshow is the first advance single from The End Of That, set to hit a record store near you on February 28. Immediately apparent is Warren Spencer’s increasing vocal confidence and range. His plaintive timber isn’t for everyone, but I find it really works. Lyrically, the song explores more sophisticated images and ideas than on previous records, though there are a few awkward platitudes: “it’s desperation for everybody/ it’s wishful thinking for the whole human race”. However, Lightshow is also more immediately accessible than the songs on La La Land save perhaps The Mama Papa.
The guitar playing is fantastic, in turns restrained and spastic. The lyrics allude to natural disasters like earthquakes, and the song itself builds like an avalanche. It’s almost chorusless, and there’s the obligatory wordless melody in the coda which I still can’t seem to get enough of in Canadian rock. I’ll be spinning this one pretty constantly, and eagerly awaiting the rest of the record.

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