Welcome to the jungle, as they say. Well, welcome to The Jungle in-fact: the fifth album from Montreal sensation Plant and Animals. It is their most compact LP at eight tracks long, and the most intimately honest that the group have ever shared, and timed just so at that. Feeding on fatherhood, it handles subjects we can’t nor should shy away from in our modern day such as anxiety and climate change, and the sensitive passing of Warren’s father put into music. Our last dance with the trio was with Waltzed In From The Rumbling and before that three albums all marching to their own universal drum, their groove notoriously slips out of grip, and this release, on October 23rd, is no different; it is phenomenal.
Now signed to Secret City Records, in the mid-00s they were an integral part of the Montreal music renaissance, where youthful enthusiasm didn’t allow for much sleep. Warren, Nic and Matthew are at that sweet point of their career where their tight bond, and reaping the reward of creating together for twenty years, allows intuitive exploring in their art and is reflected in The Jungle. All songs in some way have distortion, whether it be instrument or voice, and a slightly unpolished atmosphere, I am a super fan of these techniques you could say.
The self-titled opening track is over five minutes and a belter. Pushing drums set the scene alongside the unusual noise of a creature communicating with us. Many other effects are poured into the cauldron of sound allowing the ear to find contrast in each listen. There aren't many lyrics to be had, with ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah’ making it’s way through. It totally works; it is totally gorgeous.
Love That Boy is a steady, sweet, pitchy-bendy number that showcases all the boys' voices, and House On Fire is the worry of Warren's that their friend would sleep through a fire; It delivers the urgency of needing to be somewhere, and no one can stand in its way. Foghorns, cowbells, harmonies, chanting, masses occurs in a premier fashion. Our mood darkens for single Sacrifice, which is a song of two tones. The verse is going to war with Nick Cave and a band of pirates, while the chorus restores simplicity.
Beautiful guitar melody begins for Get My Mind then a hip hop beat enters and cinematic composing. Derived from the words "Thank you for the money and silver, thank you for the gifts that you made mine, I can turn it into ashes just to hear your voice one time" is an aching longing. French and English singing combines in the haze of Le Queens with its long, sensual guitar notes in The Voids style. We travel to France again with In Your Eyes adopting that woozy, wobbly sound I adore and that Lille electro master MYD uses brilliantly also. Handclaps and sweet, uplifting lyrics reach out “Don't give up, don’t stop now, you're a hero, you're off the ground.”
Closing the show is the anthem of the piece Bold. It has a philosophical, sad feeling in the verse, building and rising to a thrashing, brimming chorus and then back to a peaceful end. An explosion of atmospheres, thoughts and ideas are pulled together in this package. There is no pinning it down; different moments come to you every listen. With their historically ferociously live shows on the horizon, there will not be a moment's pause with The Jungle; the contemplation will wash over afterwards with digestion.
Article by Beverley Knight