The latest Plants & Animals album has a title track, but it's The End of That's centerpiece "Crisis" that best reflects its personality. In its six minutes and change, "Crisis" shuffles through the wave of emotions felt during a transitional phase, emotions that spill over into most of the tracks that precede and follow. It kicks off with vocalist Warren Spicer channeling Lou Reed to speak-sing his observation that "everyone is getting married or breaking up," and as a result, "the stroller situation on the sidewalk is getting out of control." But slowly and surely, "Crisis" builds into something louder and rougher, and Spicer's vocals gain gravel as he repeatedly yells an admission that he's "somewhere between a crisis and a pretty good time."
The restless excitement of living through a liminal moment is present throughout The End of That. The album captures the brief but significant moment when relationships end, seasons change, fresh starts abound, and friends start leaving the party to settle into adulthood. And all the while, Plants & Animals are also growing, though not without a touch of nostalgia for what has come to pass.
On the album opener, Spicer introduces this change by musing "what looked good in the Winter don't look good no more, forget about me and everything that came before." But Spicer seems reluctant to heed his own advice, as two tracks later on "Song for Love," he's "looking forward to a time when my mind is not so easily scattered, and remembering the days when your love is all that mattered." But The End never dwells in one emotion for long, giving equal attention to lighthearted accounts of dabbling with cocaine and a girl with "bee-sting lips and pepper-grinder hips." Plants & Animals have shown a great deal of growth since their instrumental beginnings, but given the subject matter and feel of the album, they aren't done evolving yet. Fortunately, The End of That's many moods already have plenty to keep us engrossed in the meantime.