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La La Land
Plants and Animals La La Land
Released 20 April 2010
Producer Plants and Animals
Label Secret City Records
Length 46:27
Genre Indie rock
Website plantsandanimals.ca

“What you got back home, little sister, to play your fuzzy warbles on?” sneered Alex, Anthony Burgess’s anti-heroic narrator in A Clockwork Orange. He clearly wasn’t a fan of the fuzz pedal. If ‘fuzzy warbles’ hadn’t been used by another band, it could have served as a moniker for Montreal’s Plants and Animals. That said, it can still serve as a description; because Plants and Animals are besotted with fuzz. They love it. They can’t get enough of it. Barely a track goes by on this album without the speakers grunting and rasping under the influence of fuzz pedals, tracks recorded on tape, and what can be suspected as (deliberately) shoddy production values.

The band describe this wretched scuff as ‘analogue warmth’. This raises the question: Is that wishful thinking? It’s no exaggeration to describe much of this album as having been rendered ‘basically irritating’ by the incessant buzz of ‘analogue warmth’.From post-punk opener 'Tom Cruz' to finale 'Jeans, Jeans, Jeans' (which sounds like Radiohead’s 'Airbag' with a puncture), the angry sound of febrile bluebottles strangles every note. In certain cases this is a real tragedy. 'Fake It' gallops along with a bass-line akin to Stan Jones’s 'Ghost Riders In The Sky', but is overtaken by its own storm of fuzzy scales.

There are brief reprieves from this white noise. The opening of 'The Mama Papa' sounds like a throwaway Frank Zappa signature. It is a glimpse into a better world, but it is soon swept away by a David Byrne-style strophic singspiel. 'American Idol' uses a chirpy brass section and grows better as it plays until a tipping point is reached, monotony is achieved, and the song outstays its welcome.

There is a lot to be said for ‘analogue warmth’. Kraftwerk employed it on Radioactivity, and the result was a masterpiece which revealed a soul in the machine. But Kraftwerk are creatures in possession of a rarefied genius. Plants and Animals have yet to prove likewise. Until then let La La Land serve to remind us that fuzz corrupts, and absolute fuzz corrupts absolutely.

- Paul McGranaghan