2008’s “Parc Avenue,” Plants and Animals’ debut album, was easily one of indie rock’s greatest revelations of the decade. An understated, smooth ride through a shadowy world of guitar and drums nearly devoid of singles (or hooks), but also compelling and well-crafted. This wasn’t pop, and it wasn’t noise: It was music.
The band has returned with a sophomore album, “La La Land,” which is much more accessible but still defies classification. Again they bring smooth, epic indie symphonies, heavy on the fuzz, drumming that is deceptively simple, vocals that ride just below the guitars in the mix so that they carry the songs without sitting in the driver’s seat…Can you tell I love it?
The best part is that on this album, they pump up the volume and add the hooks. “American Idol” could (possibly) be a single (albeit one that defies traditional structure), and it even has a horn hook. In fact, it’s vaguely like Talking Heads meet Men at Work. (Colin Stetson of Arcade Fire brings the brass.))In a reality where nobody has heard of the 1980s. This is a much more “rock” album, but like none you’ve ever heard before. And there’s not a weak track here. Song after song, slow number or fast jaunt, the band’s talent is more than evident.
Best album of the year? I dunno. There’s some strong competition from Spoon, Surfer Blood, Portugal. The Man, and even Frightened Rabbit. And it’s only April! 2010 is shaping up to be a great year for indie rock.