Plants and Animals – “Parc Avenue”

07Mar08

Long winded. That from a jam-band guy.

Plants and Animal’s album, “Parc Avenue,” their first full length-album following two EP’s, was released in 2007 off Secret City Records. Allmusic.com describes it as “genre-jumping,” I’d say it a stone cold stable, rock-light genre with variant speeds. And it would be good, REALLY good, if it stuck to what that genre was good at: keeping songs within three minutes. With 11 tracks at an average 5 minutes per song (toping out at just under 8 minutes for “New Kind of Love”), many of these songs could have been changed into two separate songs, and others could have just been cut down HEAVILY (“Keep It Real” is 4 minutes, and the last minute and a half is just downright boring, with the same three chords and horn part over and over and over and over and over). It is a valiant first attempt, and has some great build and release moments, it just seems the timing is a bit off, making these builds a little to dwindling and the releases a bit anti-climactic.

Limiting the album further, due to the length and depth of certain sections, is that there are really good parts to it, but one may not get to them or be listening if they get bored. Directly from the lead in of the first track, “Bye Bye Bye,” the pastoral vocals come in solo, and are almost immediately met by the piano for the first verse. It gets picked up pretty quickly, bringing in the band and choral parts right after that. As far as the album goes, this song is probably one of the most popular because is it directly to the point.

If you’ve listened to the second track, “Good Friend,” you’ll hear probably the best lyrics in the album. “It takes a good friend to say you’ve got your head up your ass” and “It takes an enemy to help you get out of bed.” If you listened to the entire second track, you probably got sick of him saying those lyrics as well as “I want to dance,” especially the “dance” bit being repeated some 50 times. The whole song is based off of two chords or so, and non-varying rhythms, so spanning 6+ minutes is a bit long. The last two minutes is . . . what’s the word for “foreplay” if it comes after sex? Well, it’s that.

So by this time, you’re probably already not paying attention, and will probably miss that “Feedback in the Field” has the makings for a good song, solid whistle melody throughout. Then, the band goes and ruins it by getting a minute and a half of verse melody, this time with a whimpy wah-wah’ed guitar noodling around shoved at the end. Cut it out. Either have someone REALLY solo there, or just don’t do it. The first 4 minutes of the same repetitious verse gets the point across.

“Mercy” is the zenith of the bands talent, as far as song structure goes. It has several parts that collide, congeal and morph into other parts, cheerleader vocals that come out of left field and contort the shape of the song while still keeping it prevalent to the same song. “Bye Bye Bye” will probably be the song that everyone knows this band for, but for my money, “Mercy” is the song to hear. Kudos.

So that’s about it. These guys are good, but few bands get it right on their first full length. I say, stick with it, develop it a bit more, it’s definitely getting there.

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