After the promising eclecticism of their debut Parc Avenue and the sexy grooves of La La Land, Plants and Animals’ third full-length, The End of That finds this trio of Canucks sounding more grown-up and mellowed out. The shape-shifting tracks, nods to psychedelia and lush symphonic arrangements of their earlier work take a backseat on this record to hints of folk (“HC” and the gorgeous “Before”), Americana (“The End of That”) and rootsy rock ‘n’ roll. Singer Warren Spicer tosses off lyrics like, “We’re just typical people / we’re hoping to be friends / and do cool stuff / and be equal” with such casual confidence that they don’t sound lazy or overly simple so much as they sound true. In fact, all of The End of That shares this feeling of lived-in ease, and Spicer’s comfort with his own throaty, pliable voice makes him a pleasure to listen to. The only missteps here come in the album’s centerpieces, which both would have benefited from being a few minutes shorter. “Crisis!” starts with hip-swiveling bluesy talk-singing and goes on slink and morph through a number of different sounds, but the long-building crescendo fails to deliver the emotional payoff it’s clearly reaching for. The same can be said of the subsequent “2010,” but “Crisis!” is redeemed by an earworm of a hook, and Spicer and Co. deserve props for their ambition.
Plants and Animals have proved themselves to be a band full of interesting ideas and the songwriting chops to bring those ideas to fruition. The End of That finds them sounding more mature and comfortable than ever before, signaling perhaps not an end at all, but rather a new beginning.