Yes, I like Neutral Milk Hotel, Sigur Ros, the Rapture, Modest Mouse, and Radiohead is my favorite band (by far), but there is nothing as wonderfully unique in my collection as this album. The Plan's earlier works, (! and Is Terrified) are fun to listen to in their own spastic ways, and their 2001 album Change shows a completely different and, as everyone who's heard it has said, mature side, but none measure up to this album. This is an absolute masterpiece. Unlike the radio fodder that a previous reviewer compared the Plan to, these guys make statements with their music and don't back down for until the disc ends. But the beautiful thing about it is that they absolutely do NOT think that their rock is saving the world. I get awfully weary of bands and musicians who get so preachy that you can't listen to the music without cringing. That's not to say that singer Travis Morrison hasn't issued some wack opinions on his or the Plan's website, but we're talking about the music here. So on to it.
A Life of Possibilities is a second-person narrative about and to a friend who's trying to avoid reality and those who care about him. Pretty regular stuff; we all have friends who we worry about. Musically, the keyboard in lieu of bass is fantastic. Guitars harmonize modestly and Morrison's straightfoward, unabashedly simple singing. One thing to notice is his playful use of "yeah, yeah, yeah" at the end. Yes, pretty un-genious i know, but it's intoxicating and it's something that you'll notice throughout the album: Morrison sings like he's reciting epic poetry written by Andy Kauffman.
I won't go through every song, but high points are Memory Machine for it's crazy ideas and the way it just fucking MOVES, Gyroscope for the cool way of saying someone is absolutely full of shit and the sick guitar intro, The City for Morrison's wail at the end and the stuttering beat, Back and Forth for the super-quick singing, tight lyrical work, AND perhaps the best final line of any album that I own (excluding Radiohead's Kid A). All the songs are great and there is a tremendous diversity of style among them, but those are the easiest to encapsulate in one sentence. Jesus, i forgot Spider in the Snow, the best song on the album for the simple yet heart-breaking guitar accompaniment to the refrain and the weird, '50's film score strings that open and show up throughout the song.
There are so many things I could say about this album. The way the bass doesn't just follow suit, but makes a point of giving every single song multiple dimensions. How Morrison's voice is so clear on most tracks that you can decipher almost every word. Its utter danceability. There isn't a single three-chord Blink 182 song on this disc. The Plan capture desperation (The Jitters), frustrated horniness (Girl O'Clock), loneliness (The City), and a flavor of the absolute fucked-upedness of politics, society, and life (8 1/2 Minutes, Back and Forth, all other songs). This is a total delight that i hope everyone gets to appreciate as much as I do. Sure, I can imagine people disliking it, just as i can imagine people scoffing at the predictable chord progressions of Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane over the Sea or the whininess of Thom Yorke's voice. But there is substance to this album and it's fun as hell to sing along to. There's irony, wit, and all the other good things that make great albums great for a long time. What it isn't is arrogant; the Plan want you to get fucked up and dance all night to this album, but then listen to it again the next morning when all you can think about is your hangover and the senseless shit you did the night before.