If you believe what you read, and I do – from the Sunday Times to the National Enquirer, every word of it is cast-iron honest as far as I’m concerned – we’re living in the last days of music. Everything that will be invented and innovated has already happened, every chord has been played, every key change mined. All that is left for us to do is sit back and weep as a sea of uninspiring urban beats and clichéd rock solos slowly edge off the precipice and dash us, screaming and thankful, onto the rocks below.
There is, we’re told, nothing left for us. Cowell is fiddling, pop music is burning, the punk war is over and everyone lost.
Everyone, that is, except Plank! Animalism, the trio’s debut offering, is a genuine thing of wonder and so far removed from everything bombarding your ears at the moment that you’d be forgiven for thinking that it was found in the heart of a meteor that crashed to earth in the middle of the Mojave Desert.
Of course, it didn’t – it came from the heads of three musical explorers who set their compasses for post-rock and then decided to journey there via the scenic route of prog.
Enormous and impassioned, the first thing that leaps out from Animalism is the complete lack of vocals. It’s a bold step to take with only the likes of Explosions In The Sky proving that it can be pulled off, but by the time the epic conclusion of synth-charged album opener Dying For Pigs rolls away, you’re left wondering why more bands don’t ditch the verse-chorus-verse and the ego-fuelled problems a lead singer will invariably bring in favour of such an approach.
Pigs is far from alone in being a thrill. La Luna is a pacey little head-nodder that mixes noodling guitars with insistent bass, Iguana Farm is an aural astral projection, Self Harm has a punishing progression that pleases and petrifies in equal measure, and King Rat is a road race of a tune, hurtling heads first into deeply dramatic rock.
It’s the closing Moolicks that truly takes the cake though. Pushing towards ten minutes in length, it’s a revving, reckless rollercoaster that surges through your brain and your muscles. It’s a behemoth of a tune that powers every onwards, thrilling and pleasuring as it goes, and just when you think it can’t bend your brain any further, it makes a stupefyingly majestic nod to Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds. It is, quite frankly, sheer balls-out madness and all the better for it.
Ultimately, what smacks you in the face is the sheer audacity of the album. Animalism is, to paraphrase the doyenne of urban Tim Westwood, heavy non-hit after heavy non-hit. There is no attempt to create a sellable sound by Plank! and every indulgence has been played out. And yet, precisely because of that, it is thrillingly memorable and intoxicatingly addictive.
Get it, play it and know that everything you’ve heard before, everything you’ve believed in musically, was all for nothing now this mammoth has arrived.