Review: Plumes – Plumes (2012)
Sometimes music is plain hard to digest. An ominous sentence to open a music review, maybe? Well that sentence is the truth in regard to the music of classically inspired Plumes, an indie artist (band?) based in Montreal and New York City. Yet, “indie/classical” is strangely trite as a genre description, when stacked up against the soundscapes we hear in this self titled record. As aforementioned, the music is hard to digest. But, it’s hard to digest like a well-done steak is comparable to sugary bubble gum, which one chews on for a few minutes and spits out. In fact, I’m not fully certain I’ve dwelt on the album enough yet, but I am going to try to articulate what the music conveyed to me further despite this reservation.
The classical sound manifests itself in a very off-kilter way at first, with nothing more than prominent and steady strings accenting singer Veronica Charnley in “Your Train of Thought Through Tunnels.” The quirkiness of the opening track is such that the band is saying to first time listeners “this is who we are – if you don’t like it, you can just leave us alone now.” The quirks emerge in full throughout, but in different forms and in a compelling way. “Sweet Georgia Blue” found me scratching my head (figuratively) during some odd vocal acrobatics – that still qualified as quite talented singing by the way. I’ve attended shows and heard albums with definite WTF-worthy vocal moments, but I digress. The odd ambience is, well, catchy for lack of a better word. And that’s a good thing. The definite highlight of the record is the nearly eight minute long “Hero and Leander” that flows more like a movie score with vocals rather than the purely indie/folk vibes we’ve gotten on more straightforward tracks like “The Holdup” or “Away From Home.” Charnley’s haunting Norah Jones-like vocals compliment the brass and woodwinds like nothing I’ve heard scarcely a minute in. In one song, we get a pretty accurate summation of what the record as a whole is trying to convey – a therapeutic journey geared toward the refined, open-minded listener that will at times surprise, but leave you satisfied. Stream the album below – it will be to your advantage.