The trio Plants and Animals set their acoustic instruments aside, plugged in their electrics and created a cohesive 11 song record that flows smoothly through its valleys and peaks. La La Land opens with the celebrity inspired track, “Tom Cruz.” The intro thumps may sound like a bass guitar, but it’s actually the guitar work of multi-instrumentalist Nicolas Basque. Riff-heavy and epic, “Tom Cruz” is the way a rock and roll album should start. Plants and Animals beg to be the next superstars on American Idol, an ironic wish for a group hailing from the notoriously proud province of Quebec. The Arcade Fire horn section adds some color on this should-be radio hit.
The band tip their caps to the Gypsy Kings on the Spanish-laced “Kon Tiki” before slowing things down with the album’s first tender moments on “Game Shows.” Fellow (transplanted) Montréaler Brad Barr lays down some effortless piano work as lead singer Warren Spicer insures us, “it’s so good, it’s so easy.” “Game Shows” is perhaps a critique on society’s willingness to get lost in the mind-numbing “big highs and big lows” of modern reality television garbage. The pace picks up considerably on the album’s clear masterpiece, “The Mama Papa.” Spicer adds some French inflections to his best David Byrne impression with surprisingly pleasant results. An obvious attempt at writing a radio-friendly hit with some spunk, the simple, repetitive chorus of “and the mama don’t allow what the papa don’t like and the kids just wanna be left on the outside” will be on repeat in your head for days after listening.
Proving they are Montrealers through and through, “Celebration” finds Spicer singing about one of the city’s most notable past times, partying. While the track may not be the album’s biggest rocker, it features some wonderfully layered, effect-heavy guitar work and a massive horn-filled ending. Screaming and sprawling guitar work finishes La La Land’s curiously titled final track “Jeans, Jeans, Jeans” which is about just that. Although the title might evoke thoughts of ‘80s skinny jeans and big hair, just remember titles can be misleading. “Jeans, Jeans, Jeans” is badass rock and roll, ripped jeans and all. For a band with only two full albums under their belts, Plants and Animals demonstrate the maturity and growth that comes from extended touring, and ensure that La La Land lives up to the hype set by 2008’s heavily championed Parc Avenue.