Last Friday night I made a pilgrimage down to the Black Sheep Inn, one of my favourite venues in existence. I was eager to be back at the cozy little building that treats its patrons to beautiful sounds within and beautiful sights just outside the doors. Most importantly, I was shaking with excitement at the prospect of once again seeing Plants and Animals, one of my absolute favourite Canadian bands. It was starting to feel like eons since I first heard about the upcoming fourth Plants and Animals record, and finally I would have a chance to hear some of the new material. It came as no surprise that this show was phenomenal, and it brings me great pleasure to say that the new album is going to make a fantastic addition to their catalogue.
I was expecting to hear just a few new songs, but to my surprise new material made up almost the entirety of the show. This was a pretty bold move, and one that requires a justified sense of confidence from the band. At this point, it is difficult for me to piece together exactly how the new record will sound. There were so many different songs played that it has all started to blur together (alcohol might be a contributing factor here). Some were short, in a more traditional verse-chorus structure. A few seemed to travel great distances and cover an immense amount of musical ground.
The new songs certainly did not feel as boisterous and upfront as the material on The End of That, but not as subdued and folky as Parc Avenue. To me the new songs felt closest to the material on La La Land, with a little flavour from each of the other two albums. That also may have simply been my hopes projecting into the music, as La La Land is my favourite of their records. I cannot wait to hear these songs again when the new album is finally released.
I was equally surprised by the choice of old songs played that night. With the exception of “Lightshow” at the end of the set, all familiar songs were taken from Parc Avenue. This included a tension-riddled “Faerie Dance”, a crisp and rolling “Good Friend”, and the ever-subtle “Sea Shanty”. My highlight of the show was the instrumental Indian jam, “Guru”, segueing seamlessly into an unfamiliar song with a distinct Indian vibe. I was elated simply to hear the flowing, exotic tones of “Guru”, and that feeling was only amplified when it built its way up to something completely novel.
I chatted briefly with Nick Basque, Plants and Animals’ guitarist, after the show and he mentioned that they were hoping to release the new record in April 2016. Keep an eye out, because it will be one you won’t want to miss. If they ever play a show in your area, don’t sleep on it.