Plants and Animals – The End of That: Force yourself through your mistakes

A couple of months ago, I already featured “Lightshow” as one of my favourites. I gotta admit, I listened to the whole album back then, noted it, even bought it (so it must have made an impression) but then got swept away by other music (quite possibly Young Colossus) and forgot about it. But I recently decided to add it to my mp3 player and listened to it on my way to my hometown. These train rides are always a very weird, yet special way to listen to music, I always feel like I am halting the present to travel back in time. Quite a few albums had a different effect on me when I listened to them during these journeys.

(I literally tense up when I listen to that song, it’s so powerful in the confusion and despair)

Plants and Animals struck me especially. The whole album seems to deal with the past and the present, a lot is about regret and this moment when you reflect on what you did wrong (particularly how you treated people close to you) but know that it’s been done and there’s no way to change it now. The title therefore seems to be a very nice summary of the main theme. The intensity of the album is remarkable, it’s like a mixture of Waters and Bob Dylan, the underlying sarcasm and humor is very disarming and brings an amused bitterness on the table that I quite like.

Oh lately, I’ve been such a drag

All down in the dumps, man

Moping and dragging my feets

coping with a life of luxuries

(Oh, I often dream of standing on a stage and perform in such a gloriously cheesy way. I always suspect that you do it ironically for the first half and at some point enjoy it so much that it becomes a very honest performance. I wonder how it must be for Celine Dion to do that and worse since a thousand years. It’s no wonder she thinks she is literally the greatest singer on earth, insanity seems to be the only way if you perform like that for centuries.)

The theme of marriage and relationships rings through the album, it’s always weird for me to realize that many of the bands I review are now the same age as me (it’s worse, though, if they are 10 years younger) and that I can relate to many of their issues and ideas. Suddenly you wake up and everyone is engaged, kids start plopping up and you’re standing there and wonder whether you’re doing something wrong, whether you should be worried or not. Warren Spicer, who wrote the lyrics, got out of a long-term relationship shortly before the album, according to an interview with the Montreal Gazette and it obviously made a great impression on his songwriting. It’s a tour de force, but it’s not ungrateful, as “the end of that” is not necessarily a destructive path into nothing but rather a somewhat determined reflection of the mistakes you made but hopefully can learn from. And so it says on the cheekily titled “Crisis!”:

It hit me like a notice of recovery

Takin’ hits on the road to redemption

It’s a chance of salvation

For the broken-hearted believers there’s something more

And so it fades out, the repeated “something more” ringing, echoing, becoming an airy concept, a gnosis embraced by the messy instrumentals. It’s one of the many, great moments that ring very true and make listening to this album quite an emotional experience that fortunately always gets lifted off by this stubborn, raw garage feel of the music, so you don’t get engulfed in theatrical cheese. Plus, lyrics like these make me want Spicer to write a novel:

Soon I’ll find a place, rent a box and put some stuff in it

Until then I’ll glorify all my vices and just roll with the punches

The moral of the story almost always ruins every word in it

Sometimes the learning is the losing and you’re better off

just burning some bridges

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