It wasn’t just a new album that Plants and Animals released at La Tulipe last Thursday night, it was a new attitude. The Midsummer Night’s Dream-like frolic of Parc Avenue with faeries and fields has evolved into the grittier brooding of Hamlet in their sophomore release, La La Land. Their first release Parc Avenue has an older brother, and that brother listens to Alice Cooper.
Seven chandeliers hung low from the rafters at La Tulipe, setting the stage with a gothic yet elegant ambience. The Montreal-based band opened with a reworked “New Kind of Love.” Perhaps it was nerves, but the band did not project any semblance of inhibition as they took the stage to a roar of applause. The melodic ballad was amped up, transforming into an extended version with not one, but two rock-heavy solos.
The new album is touted by vocalist and guitarist Warren Spicer to be more geared towards the live show, and has been compared to Neil Young’s Crazy Horse, with a Talking Heads-like lyrical edge. The songs are darker, dealing with drug-addicted neighbours and a mid-life crisis – though not his own, Spicer was quick to point out before breaking into “Undone Melody.” Some of the newer songs took on an old Weezer feel, mixed with a dash of Pixies, creating brooding anthems.
Old material was smoothly woven between the new songs as rawer, heavier versions. Spicer donned a shiny new red guitar for the occasion, which he brandished with fury during another double solo in “Faerie Dance.” They finished with new single “The Mama Papa”, before an encore that ended with Parc Avenue’s opener, “Bye Bye Bye.” While the musical departure may not sit well with some fans, this was not evident in rows of shiny happy faces packing the floor and balcony of the venue.
The launch begun with the Barr Brothers, a trio of two brothers and harpist Sarah Page. The sold-out venue was packed for their set of gentle, upbeat folk accompanied by harmonica wails and Page’s strings.
La La Land has retained the magic that first won Plants and Animals critical acclaim. Conceptually, Parc Avenue is the dream,La La Land is that dream situated in reality.