Published Oct 21, 2020Montreal mid-aughts standouts Plants and Animals used each of their four previous albums to explore diverse, often divergent, sounds and approaches, each project employing a distinct musical palette. Their fifth album, The Jungle, is the band's most melodic, rhythmic and textural sequence to date, as well as their most authentic-sounding, devoid of posturing and contrivance. As a result, The Jungle shows Plants and Animals claiming a consummate aesthetic, the band's eccentricities coming to stylistic fruition.
The album opens with the title song, featuring a sinewy bass and electronic-sounding drums, ambiently percussive sounds that conjure sultry locales, moody synths wafting atop the danceable rhythms. Melodic lines weave around and between Warren Spicer's and Adèle Trottier-Rivard's complementary vocals. On staccato bass-driven "House on Fire," Spicer offers a vocal and melodic tribute to David Byrne, the band crafting an irresistible hybridization of The Suburbs-era Arcade Fire and Talking Heads circa Remain in Light.
With "Get My Mind," the band slow the pace and embrace a lo(wer)-fi production approach, opening with an acoustic guitar, the addition of raucous instrumentation contrasting effectively with Spicer's breathy and delicate vocal. "In Your Eyes" is the most buoyant track on the album, evoking an optimistic and pop-sensitive vibe. The album closes with "Bold," spotlighting some of the set's most lavish textures and seductive hooks.
Since their debut, each of Plants and Animals' releases have drawn from recognizable precedents and playbooks, their sets built on signature rearrangements and reconfigurations. The Jungle, too, clearly displays its references; this album's transmutations, however, are the band's most consistently sublime and seem to have been rendered effortlessly in comparison to previous work. With The Jungle, Plants and Animals claim a more definitive and cogent sense of identity, maximizing a talent for both interpretation and invention. (Secret City)