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Album Review

The Portland-based group Plants lives up to its name perfectly with its fourth full-length release — both album and individual song titles, in combination with the album art with leaf close-ups and similar imagery, suggest something between the kind of soundtracks that Pink Floyd used to do for pretentious art movies and whatever was used as musical backing for early-'70s public television documentaries on the vegetable kingdom. All of which is very much meant as a compliment. Dreamy, rural-sounding and mysterious, Photosynthesis compares favorably with the quieter side of groups such as Ghost and especially Atman, among many others. The soft sound wash that opens the album on its title track slowly grows into a kind of Cocteau Twins bliss-out taken to a logical extreme, a soothing and heavenly flow that sets the tone for the whole album. While a song like "Roots" takes a darker minor chord turn with its slightly stern drone melody, and "Birdflowers" a manically twisted path with the combination of nervous chimes and pipes, overall Photosynthesis has the feeling of a gentle spring afternoon deep in a mysterious but still well-lit forest. The combination of Joshua Blanchard and Molly Griffith-Blanchard's singing at various points, notably on "Seedling" and "Seedling Three" (the latter being the album's most immediately conventional moment in its verse/chorus structure) feels very lovely, a soft harmonic blend delivered understatedly but not without gentle passion. Meanwhile the calmly-paced percussion and banjo-led "Tumbleweed" is like a slow backwoods dance, deliberate and stately but not dead by any means.

Photosynthesis, Plants
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