All The Plans Resting
Where Are My Records
ow. Where did this come from? I freely admit to being one of Readymade’s biggest fans, but neither of their old records really prepares you for what All The Plans Resting sounds like. The Dramatic Balanced By was bedroom shoegazer with extra keyboards, three men and a drum machine crafting fuzzy epics on a four-track. On Point And Red added two more guys, but with hindsight feels kind of transitional. If “No Longer Ortona” and “Terminal Sounds At Night” point towards what Readymade are doing now, the crunchier songs on OPAR look back to the past. It’s still a good album, but maybe it was about the adjustments more than anything else.
Because with All The Plans Resting Readymade leave it all behind. Everything here has been refined and focused down into the most cohesive, most beautiful album they’ve ever made. The sound design (“mixing” doesn’t do it justice) is impeccable, and while individual instruments were still used to create this album, the sound is beautifully unified. Acoustic, electric and digital are blended seamlessly (if you’d told me in 2000 that the acoustic guitar could become an integral part of Readymade’s sound I would have laughed) and although the whole band is on top form Kevin Hilts’ keyboard work deserves special praise. Some of these tracks are nearly pure evocations of mood; I know stuff happens in “Shorter Breaths” and “Outlast By Rain,” for example, but I’m not sure I can tell you what.
And yet at the same time there are the best songs the band has ever put together. It’s almost sadistic to place “Henghsan Reeling,” “Rehearsed Disaster,” and “Rememberforget” all together in the second half of the album; the rest of the record is great, but that particular run isn’t likely to be equaled by anyone any time soon. It’s as if just after Hex Bark Psychosis decided what they really wanted to do was write really great melodies, but keep that feeling of diffusion and space, or as if someone hired Vini Reilly to play with Slowdive at the halfway point between Souvlaki and Pygmalion. Only with tunes.
And better lyrics than all the aforementioned, to boot. Readymade remains the band I think of when I think of big cities, and as with all their work this album is tied inexorably to Vancouver, even during the travelogue of “Hengshan Reeling” or the revolutionary dreams of “Under The Networks.” “Nightsky Of Exit Signs” might be the most purely pretty thing the band have put their hands to, but even as it tells you to “keep the ocean closer” it invokes the city over and over (“there’s so much glass here”). There are politics and crime, travel and nostalgia, ennui and rain splattered all over All The Plans Resting. Arch (no last name, please) continues to give voice to all the songs no matter who writes them, but his sleepy croon has never sounded more crucial to Readymade’s sound.
As with any album that you truly love, especially those by bands you adore, it’s hard not to just babble about All The Plans Resting, so I’ll stop. I can dimly perceive some possible problems with it from the perspective of others: The sound is uniform enough that some may get tired of it, the more impressionistic pieces might strike some as aimless, old fans might be upset by the polish on the sound here and the relative brevity of the songs (everything’s under six minutes). But I have to try really hard to think of these. In my world (where “Rehearsed Disaster” is on the radio every five minutes and these guys are being presented with the Order of Canada), Readymade have pulled off a near-impossible feat: They’ve made a record that sounds nothing like what I would have expected that feels perfectly natural and that actually rivals my favorite record of all time for my affections. What more can one ask for?
STYLUSMAGAZINE.COM'S ALBUM OF THE WEEK: FEBRUARY 6 - FEBRUARY 12, 2004