The extended play or EP is a format for music that has sort of lost its significance in the modern era of music. As things have gone to be more singles based the idea of just releasing say 4-6 songs seems pointless. Though it was the CD that started kill off the EP my favorite EP was released well into the era of CDs dominance. That EP is obviously Flutterboard by the Canadian band Plumtree.
You may recognize Plumtree as the people who wrote that one song that ended up naming that one popular Canadian comic book character. You know the one about the guy who had to battle his girlfriend’s 29 second cousins for some reason or another. But in addition to that song they also made some pretty good music. Out of all there releases I think Flutterboard stands out above all of them.
The songwriting of Flutterboard despite being about half the length of any of their other releases is incredibly varied. The songs have a sort of casual fucking around quality to them that I think adds a lot to the charm of them. It’s clear that this was not a concerted effort to make a polished release but rather a group of friends having fun and creating something together. Through this process though they were able to create some absolutely fantastic, catchy, and overall endearing music.
The first song on the album “In the Sink” is the biggest testament to this. It starts off with a great guitar line and some drum rolls as a bass and a very loose plucked electric guitar comes. The singer comes and in a very detached but still melodic tone sings about how “today was not my day”. Then a two singers come in harmonizing and start relating a story about having a collection of worms as a child, how other kids think the worms are dirty to which the speaker responds “my worms are perfectly clean I wash them twice a day in the sink”. As the song draws to a close and the second verse comes it is revealed that her brother used the worms as fish bait and the singer is going to go “get a Barbie instead”, effectively giving up her statues as the weird kid. It’s a song that manages to be both rather fun and poignant and perfectly captures being a child.
The next song “I Hope there’s a Heaven” kicks in with a rather awesome hard rock riff before breaking into a short bit of instrumental plucking. As the verse kicks comes the singer starts singing a very simple yet nearly perfect melody (seriously its not something I can describe in words but it is a fucking 10/10 melody). The pattern of hard rock riffs and instrumental plucking continues until feedback slowly kicks back in before the last chorus in a way that honestly more enjoyable than any Godspeed you Black emperor drone ever written. Its not as complex as other build ups but it is able to get the effect off with much simpler chords. It feels to me that this was the a result of the band sitting around and trying to write a big cock rock crowd pleaser but do it in their own weird indie way. The majority of bands trying to emulate 70s cock rock sound nowadays still can’t manage to capture it but with almost nothing to them Plumtree manages to make something that is equally as catchy and a billion times more charming as any anthem of the 70s.
This is continued by “Hey! Whiskers!” which is about talking to your cat because you are a loser with no social skills. That’s something I think we can all relate too. It has a really nice guitar line that sounds incredibly relaxed and casual. It adds to the songs humorous tone and it serves as a nice way to calm down from the hard rock of “I Hope there’s a Heaven”.
After “Hey! Whiskers!” a mysterious riff kicks in that develops into a rather jaunty sort of swinging tune that is the song “Depp”. It’s basically about wanting to go out with Johnny Depp which was still an appealing thought in the early 90s. It’s mostly driven by cool guitar lines though as the middle section is a rather interesting descending line. It’s rather simple but still adds this cool air of mystery to the song.
“Depp” is followed by “Festooned” which is where the band decides to get weird. It kicks in with guitar lines that similarly to Depp try and create and air of mystery. This time though it is slightly disconcerting but still fun. Then the voices kick which sound like they recorded in tubes. The faint sounds of feedback and distorted echoes litter the background. It breaks into a huge wailing section while guitars play in the background before all cutting out into feedback. It’s easy to see that this is where the band decided they just wanted to make something a bit fun and weird. Its creepy in the same way most Halloween decorations are. We recognize it is some level creepy but both you and the person on the other end are just fucking around.
Finally we get to “Good Time to Tell Me” which is a fun closer. It’s a song that’s driven by an incredibly casual riff that plays while the band sings about how they feel the same no matter what happens to them in life. It then breaks into a really sparse chorus and reverbed chorus about how she loves it when a significant other talks to them. It’s a rather simple song but the chorus is startlingly effective.
The main thread that runs through all these songs is that none of them sound professional. Everyone sounds like something that would just come up playing casually with your friends. It’s a record built more around fun than technicality, friendship rather that artisanship. It feels real and authentic, made without any aspirations outside of the joy of creating music with your companions.
Flutterboard can be downloaded legally for free at this link.