I pick up the thread and follow it back. Plangent reads like cascade of memories arranged by sound and association; heavy rainfall triggering the reminiscence of autumnal evenings at a wood-fired home, the persistent seethe of waves inciting thoughts of train brakes during routine commutes which, in turn, picks at the scabbed regrets of wilted love and emotional distance, oozing open as a folk ballad for lonely nights and nylon-scuffed knuckles. Every moment contains the nascent glimmer of the one to follow. Just how the path of wandering, solitary thought can lead to long-forgotten crevices and burrows, Plum gets beautifully carried away in her own head.
I’m led to places I probably shouldn’t be. During “Love On Loan”, the intimacy of the recording is so intense that I imagine Plum hunching over her instrument to avoid knocking me in the head. Recording cables are draped over my shoulders. I keep my breaths short to avoid exciting the microphone membranes on either side. Her vowels segue outward into memories of campfire evenings and numerous coastal walks, as the songs cross-fade into field recordings and anxious vocal abstractions of spittle, exhalation and poetry. At several points her musical input feels harsh and abrupt – such as the organ that bleats dissonantly over “Induratize” – and I wonder if Plum is trying to comprehend her thoughts in real-time, blurting raw, feral material onto the tape. I hear the twitches of the mind before the mouth and limbs have time to filter them.
My favourite track comes late in the record. Like all of the acoustic pieces on the album, “An Apology” carries the acoustic framing of a small bedroom: Plum perched on the edge of a pristine guest bed, with recording equipment assembled quickly while the urge to record is irresistibly strong. Her voice warbles and dips, the execution faltering like a bulb under sudden emotional surges. The words slip out of time ever so slightly, as if she’s been struck by a lyrical poignancy previously hidden to even herself. She doesn’t hide from these moments. Instead, they form little tufts of interruption in the musical fabric, as inherent to these pieces as those moments when intention and execution align.