June 13, 2017

LP: Plumtree - Plumtree Predicts The Future

Plumtree gets a much-deserved second life with a new reissue. 

You may not have ever heard Plumtree's music but you've definitely seen Michael Cera wearing their band shirt. After breaking up in 2000 after a six-year run, the Halifax four-piece stumbled back into the public eye in 2010 through the film adaptation of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Despite the success of the movie and comics, Plumtree's music remained overshadowed by other gems of 1990s alt-Canadiana like Eric's Trip and Cub, bands who both (deservedly) continue to be written about in books like Have Not Been The Same: The CanRock Renaissance 1985-1995 and Fresh At Twenty: The Oral History of Mint Records. However, with the reissue of Plumtree's three full-length albums on vinyl and for digital download, the band's music won't go back into hiding anytime soon.

Writing about my favorite Plumtree record is similar to picking a favorite child: you don't want to say you have one, but in all honesty there's a daughter who shines just a little brighter than the rest. For me, that record-child is Plumtree Predicts The Future, the band’s sophomore release and the sonic home to a number of their most understated and underrated bangers. Originally released in 1998 on Halifax's Cinnamon Toast Records, the album begins with “Go!”, a track that, in a parallel universe, is likely the theme song for a quaint Canadian sitcom about the ups and downs of teenage life in the Maritimes. Despite the aging shown by its ska-revival influence, “Hang Up Baby” could have just as easily been released in 2017 with lines like, “Your cell phone is blinking all day long / You know that it's me and not your mom / It wouldn't take much to turn it on / But you'd rather just keep me hanging on.” Another album highlight is the aforementioned “Scott Pilgrim,” Plumtree’s defining track and the closest thing the group ever had to a mainstream hit (if you've never heard the song, stop reading and go listen to its three minutes and four seconds of pure pop perfection RIGHT NOW). The record closes with “Your Mouth Shoots Off,” a curiously effective musical mixture of melancholy and hope. This combination is the best thing about Plumtree: they were never afraid to embrace the contradiction of being sad and being silly at the same time, a form of emotional honesty in pop that can be found today in bands like Nice Try, Adult Mom and Free Cake For Every Creature. From their lighthearted sound to lyrics about the perils of cellphones and romance, Plumtree certainly predicted the future.


Listen to Plumtree on bandcamp.

Alanna Why is a musician and writer from Ottawa, ON., Canada. She used to play in the pop-punk band BB Cream and is currently working on her upcoming musical project, So Sensitive. Follow her on Twitter @alanna_why.