From the get-go, Plunt prejudiced me in their favor. They dub themselves "Montreal indie pop punk"—all promising adjectives, even if "Montreal" isn't really an adjective, but a beautiful city filled with friendly people. Then the group adds adorable cover art, bilingual credits, and band photograph that's the very opposite of a glamour shot. Look, they didn't even comb their hair! The quartet is evenly divided male and female, giving both sexes a crack at vocals—yet another point in their favor.
Alas, the album doesn't quite live up to expectations. True, the songs are short and poppy, but the album feels almost schizoid. Many tracks feature a slow tempo and mellow mood. It's a matter of taste surely, but those tracks just did not grab me the way the faster, edgier songs did. "Rider," for instance, takes more from twangy country-western music than punk. The reverb on the vocals is interesting, but I am not sure what it ultimately adds to the song as a whole.
These slower songs do make the observational lyrics audible to the listener who has time to ponder them and respond to the images they evoke. References to the female singer's weight, for instance, and the mundane ("Do you want milk in your coffee?") paint a picture of average folks finding words for their music as they go. There is also wordplay that can be clever, such as in "Ménage-A-Trois," an English song using French loan-words, whose chorus asks the listener to "Pardon my French." Or it can be annoying, as in "Pointe," which seeks to use every possible connotation of "point," until I wanted to scream, "Ok, I get the point!" Ultimately, these tracks feel like intellectual experiments.
The faster, better tracks make known the group's punk influence, featuring jangling guitars and choruses half-shouted in unison. "Chapi Chapo" is an infectious homage to the Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop." "Ho Hoho" is a near perfect bit of teenage angst laid over banging drums. My number one pick of the album, "Barbie," is a clever commentary on the marketing of political ideology to children. The song describes (fictional) Disaster Relief Barbie, who wears camo, drives a hummer, and dates Army Ken. Sure, Barbie is an easy target for dissidents, but you just try to keep from clapping along with the chorus. "Catfood Face" unites the two modes of the album: it moseys through an ode to the singer's cat, full of amusing observations and questions: "What have you done to the squirrel?" For the final chorus, the tempo and volume leap and the song becomes a headbanger. Entertaining, but inexplicable.
The album opens and closes with instrumental numbers, two variations on the same theme that make good use of horns and keyboard. Indeed, the overall instrumentation and arrangement throughout the album is skilled. I suspect that Plunt's second album, when they have had more time to settle on a persona and sound, will be well worth a listen.