Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Even still, this late into the season, or with the tease and the rapid progression of tolerable temperatures and weather that still would like you to accept it, you'll get startled by gaggles of geese passing overhead, late to their next destination, somewhere south and much better for the next few months. You look up, see the goose at the tip of the vee-shaped procession and you immediately think, "There goes a stupid bunch of birds." You wonder what took them so long, why they waited until it was almost too late to get shifting to warmer climates for the winter. There's already snow on the ground and the cold has already set in, as we've already begun gritting our teeth to bear this passage of time. The wood is chopped and stacked out behind the shed and the electric blankets have been slipped under the comforters for weeks and yet, here are these outdoor-dwelling birds, freezing their asses off trying to make time in getting somewhere more tolerable. There's a brief mention in this Plants and Animals session of the winter birds returning from their vacations, but to us, we hear the departure of those winged things in the Canadian band's writing, generating a feeling of settling in for the season, of getting snugly behind doors and walls and wrapping blankets around our feet and legs to last it out, once more. All will be well, once again, in a few months, but for now, we've got some serious perseverance to take care of. We've got to make ourselves hearty and able to withstand the wind chills and the frozen times. It feels as if there are some sweats going on in the songs "Game Shows" and "Feed Back In The Field," taking us into some personal struggles, and they're the kinds of sweats that make the coldness a little more tolerable, but they take so long to cook and heaven forbid they work themselves down before getting back inside, for that's when a real cold sets in. Lead singer Warren Spicer sounds like he's following tracks out in the snow on "Game Shows," even though the song seems to be set indoors, in front of a television screen. We're transported though, to where the soft and powdery snow is a few inches deep and the longing pangs lead us. It takes us to a small fire for warmth, kicking dirty ashes of exhausted wood cords into a fluttery travel pattern that only takes them up so far and then drops them into our hair or hat and onto our Thermoses. He sings, "We lose ourselves to each other/It's good and it's so easy," and a wellness comes from this, just as likely comes to those winter birds, finally getting up into the sky, up into their formation and with every flap, getting one body length closer to a tolerable place.