Audio Mixer: Warren Spicer.
Recording information: Mixart Studios, Montreal, QC.
Since debuting in the mid-2000s, Montreal-based indie outfit Plants and Animals have built a reputation for sturdy pop-minded songcraft and high-quality, often intricate musicianship. Creatively, their ambitions have often extended beyond their personnel's relatively Spartan number (three), and that can certainly be said for Waltzed in from the Rumbling, the group's fourth outing. Recorded over a two-year period during which members Nicolas Basque, Warren C. Spicer, and Matthew Woodley chose family life over constant touring, the album bears the detailed stamp of extended studio toil. From sprawling experimental opuses like opener "We Were One" and the impressive seven-minute "Je Voulais Te Dire" to more intimate and laid-back fare like "Johnny Is a Drummer," they cover a lot of ground on these 11 tracks. Sonically, Waltzed in from the Rumbling is a well-stocked pantry of unique ideas that interlock in beautiful clarity. The watery grooves of the tight-knit "Off the Water" and the dark pop pulse of "No Worries Gonna Find Us" are highlights in both form and content. A unique melding of nervy Radiohead-style delivery and lush chamber pop serves as a big part of the album's identity, adding a wintry undertone to many of the tracks. It's an ambitious release from a band that has proven it can be both cerebral and heartfelt. ~ Timothy Monger