Friday, June 17, 2011

Arrange- Plantation REVIEW

In 2008, M83 released their fifth studio album, the Brat Pack electro-love letter, Saturdays=Youth. Before my first listen, I had already gotten wind that Saturdays was a departure for Gonzalez and co.- there were rumors that the record was an organic sounding homage to John Hughes-esque memories and ideologies. It all sounded very conceptual and cinematic- even for M83. My endless anticipation seemed like a recipe for an immense letdown; and of course, that’s exactly what happened. The moderate disappointment I felt towards Saturdays has dissipated thanks to repeated listening- though I still have the same issues with the album. Most notably, it doesn’t flow as well as it should, the transitions from Reagan-era teenybopper to hardcore synth-based stuff is overly jarring, large stretches of it wander around for tracks at a time- but I have grown to accept these flaws because I have had time to separate my expectations from reality. Needless to say, the debut album Plantation from Arrange is everything I was hoping for in Saturdays=Youth. And perhaps a little bit more.

A self-released solo affair from artist Malcom Lacey, Plantation, is truly an album of vivid, heartbreak- quite possibly one of the most beautifully tragic albums since The Antlers’ Hospice. Instrumentals flow into post-rock chord progressions that give way to tasteful ambient crescendos. A large portion of Plantation sounds like post-modern Explosions in the Sky, albeit with painful, whispery M83-esque vocals. Similar to Hospice, Arrange sets up the listener with a couple of vague, meandering tracks before suddenly dropping on us a gutpuncher of emotional clarity. Here it is called “When’d You Find Me”, a song that begins as slow as molasses and somehow seems to get slower- before finally giving way to a tight riff and subtle, uptempo synth beat. From this point forward, the listener is guided on a relentless trip of warmth and perspective. Obviously this was a personal work for Malcolm Lacey (let’s hope it is- if not, the world may not be ready for someone so casually sensitive). But the major difference between this album and other works of artistic intimacy is the level of precision brought to the table. While the listener is invested in the experience from the start, Plantation never overplays its hand. Lacey avoids abusing their trust even during the album’s most memorable moments- the grandiose “Tearing Up Old Asphalt” and the upbeat “Blinds With You”. We want to dig into the album deeper, perhaps find the cause of it’s suffering. But Lacey keeps things tastefully distant and restrained. It’s to the credit of Arrange that Plantation is frequently cathartic, but never overwrought- a delicate balance that is harder to achieve than most would believe.


STANDOUT TRACKS INCLUDE:









Plantation is available for free download at www.arrange.bandcamp.com.

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