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CD Review: Plants and Animals' The End of That 

In 2010, Montreal's Plants and Animals released their sophomore LP, La La Land, a dark and boozy paean to sex, drugs and R&R that staggered and slurred from knock-it-back bar rock to drunken hook-up balladry. Now, with The End of That, P&A's chief songwriter Warren Spicer sounds like he is headed toward the inevitable next phase, much like a Behind the Music episode. Initially bolstering that sober-account claim are the considered acoustic guitar and piano that replace some of La La Land's rock-outs and flame-outs. The LP even opens with the Topanga Canyon folkie drift of "Before" and the bouncy twang of the title cut, with its list of no-longer-acceptable behaviors.

But this is no fresh-out-of-rehab record stocked with recovery pabulum. P&A may have dialed it back some, but this isn't retiring fare. If he's sober (debatable), Spicer isn't thrilled about it, and the red-lined rocker "Why & Why" or epic aggro riff at the heart of "2010" make that clear. The jaunty bounce of "Crisis!" suggests he's still convinced there's a middle ground "somewhere between a crisis and a pretty good time" where he can scratch that itch without bleeding to death. And amid the swirling keys and enormous barre chords of "Song for Love," Spicer gives voice to that purgatorial ambivalence when he sings, "The moral of the story almost always ruins every word in it." This is a rare taking-stock LP that reads honest and doesn't paper over the core issue (album-highlight "Control Me" is practically a plea): Misbehaving is damn fun, and makes for great rock 'n' roll.

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