Friday, January 20, 2012

Plants And Animals Put Up Lightshow

The new single, Lightshow, released by Plants And Animals in anticipation of their new album, isn't getting as much attention as some would expect. But any lack of love doesn't have much to do with Lightshow. It has to do with the B-side.

For some unknown reason, the eclectic Canadian indie band from Montreal decided to add their recent cover of I'll Believe In Anything by Wolf Parade. It's the one they recorded live at the POP Montreal International Music Festival.

It's not bad, but Plants And Animals didn't really do much to make it their own, creating a rather flat rendition in comparison to the original. I understand why they played it straight, but they really didn't need to.

Sure, the angst is felt and the emotion of the song bristles along through their fingers and onto their instruments. And yet something feels off, almost as if they were trying too hard to play it like Wolf Parade instead of like Plants And Animals.

Or maybe it does sound like Plants And Animals, just not the one we've heard before. Both tracks on the single suggest that their next album, The End Of That, is going to have more of an indie rock edge than La La Land ever did. That's a good sign. Plants And Animals sounds better when they play dirty.

What is really weird to me is that the cover actually does work well when you can see them play it, especially with the lead-in homage to Wolf Parade as being one of the first bands to take them on tour. See for yourself.

Why it doesn't work as well as an audio track is hard to say. But all the reactions to it are different. Those who saw the video love it. Those who didn't see the video aren't so excited. And that is why the cover is getting more attention than the single, which is just too bad because the single rocks.

Lightshow Is A Powerful Reintroduction To Plants And Animals. 

Lightshow highlights some renewed indie brilliance on behalf of Plants And Animals, something for an entirely new audience. The song meanders in and out of musical stylings, including some deathly hard transitions that could physically manifest themselves as head snaps.

The lyrics are dark, moody and biting. The delivery brings back some of the sounds from Parc Avenue, but from a more mature band that is unafraid to evolve. In fact, Lightshow is especially distinct because it dares to do things other bands would never do. And even if those bands did, it would never work.

The single comes together as a richly complex track, alternating sharp pop sections with crushing indie rock. After listening to it a few times, you might even wonder if it alludes to where the band is more than the you, me, and the planet (which is what the song is about).

Or maybe not. Knowing Plants And Animals, only one thing is certain about Lightshow. This isn't post-classic rock as they used to describe their music. It's something different. Something better.

The band that everybody expects more from, including themselves. 

With three vocalists and varied backgrounds, Warren Spicer (guitar), Matthew Woodley (drums), and Nicolas Basque (guitar, bass, keyboards) the band always surprises. Even when they released their first self-titled sprawling full-length with Ships at Night Records, they were counted as a band to watch.

But then they followed up with a sharply cut full-length and a new label. It was so sharp that it might have been a mixed blessing as much as it was a mixed bag. It catapulted them into the public eye with two Juno nominations and a spot on the Polaris Prize shortlist, but also set their sophomore album up to feel less complicated and more contemplated.

Lightshow doesn't suffer from being over thought. It feels natural. And even if they did record some songs two or three different ways (as they have been known to do), no one would ever really know it.

Lightshow Puts Plants And Animals At 6.8 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Lightshow comes across as a new direction for Plants And Animals, closer to the less played basement mix of The Mama Papa from La La Land. Of course, there is no guarantee that the single is a foreshadow to The End Of That. Eclectic and meandering is just as likely.

Lightshow by Plants And Animals is up on iTunes. Take the B-side or not, but definitely pick up the single. You can also find Lightshow on Amazon. The End Of That is due out on February 28.
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