Plants and Animals can be a difficult band to figure out.
A Montreal-based rock outfit, the group has kept busy the past few years. With the release of their first album Parc Avenue, the band found themselves drowned in critical praise and even found their debut nominated for the prestigious Polaris Music Prize. Two years later they rewrote their sound with La La Land
, a collection of songs that eschewed the loose feel of Avenue in favor of a punchier, more polished production.
Now currently on tour to promote their third release (the band makes a stop at Atlanta’s 529 on April 8), the band has released what lead singer Warren Spicer lovingly refers to as a “what the f--k-type” record.
Released earlier this year, The End of That
serves as a link between the sprawling, jammy songs of Parc Avenue and the kinetic glitz of La La Land
. Whereas the album contains poppy gems like the single “Lightshow,” it also features emotional slow-burners like the six-minute “2010.”
For Spicer and his bandmates, the recording of The End of That
marked a significant contrast from the tumultuous sessions of their last album.
“We didn’t know what we were doing, we just kind of jumped into it,” Spicer admitted in a phone interview with the Wheel
. “It was kind of a mess in terms of putting it together and finishing it, so I think we wanted to avoid that. We made a commitment that we would finish it by the time we said we’d finish it.”
With an end date in mind, the band designed a strict timetable that included everything from writing the songs to mastering them. Traveling to a lush studio near Paris, France, the band arrived with finished songs in hand. From there, the recording took about two weeks.
While Spicer believes some good came out of this experiment, it’s not a process he wishes to relive.
“Ultimately, I think it cornered us too much and put a lot of pressure on us when there didn’t need to be pressure,” he said. “What we’d like to do is find a bit more of a laid-back timeline in terms of recording stuff and doing it when it feels fun. We sound way better when we’re having a good time and joking around.”
While musically, The End of That
designates a bridging of the band’s various sounds, the album’s lyrical contents reiterates their emotional progression as a group. The End of That
is, for all intents and purposes, the sound of a band bidding ado to a past era and embracing a new period in their lives.
The signs are there — from the album title to songs like “2010,” which celebrates the end of the titular year.
“I think we all kind of grew up a little bit making that record,” Spicer said. “I went through some changes in my life that were reflected in my lyrics. As a band, [we were] trying to figure out how to mature and figure out how to sustain a career in such an uncertain business.”
According to Spicer, the album’s content came not just from the band members’ own internal experiences but also from looking around and seeing the path that their former musician colleagues had taken. Whereas the group was once surrounded by friends pursuing the same musical dreams, many have now subsequently dropped out in favor of a more practical career path.
“A few years ago, there was a lot of us who were in the same boat, but as time goes by less and less people seem to be in this boat,” Spicer said.
While the prospect of a band contemplating growing up may seem like a dour affair, Spicer is quick to point out the album’s humor.
Even when the band embraces the more emotional themes in their songs, Spicer sees this embrace as a matter of integrity.
“For us, it’s about being honest about where we are — this record isn’t written by a 20-year-old, there’s a lot of references to someone who’s probably 33,” he said. “You have to accept that it’s not going to relate to everybody, but hopefully it resonates more profoundly with other people because it is honest, and it’s not posturing.”
That being said, the band is far from feeling like elder statesmen. They are already working towards a new album. Spicer even shared his own plans for improving their tour bus.
“We have plans,” he says, “We have big plans to really pimp out the décor back here. We’re passing by a Wal-Mart soon, and then we’re just going to go crazy.”
Wal-Mart? Pimping out the tour van? Very rock-and-roll if I do say so myself.
— Contact Mark Rozeman.