Maxim S is a Helsinki-based musician whose latest project goes by the name of Plant Food. The brilliantly titled ‘Koalas Hug Trees to Keep Cool’ (out 18 April) is a record available from our friends at Fox Food Records. Recorded in Turku, Helsinki, Moscow and St Petersburg during the years of 2016-2018, it’s the sound of a musician willing to experiment with sounds and textures in an effort to make something unique.
The lo-fi guitar of ‘Falling Asleep to Spoken Word’ opens the album and has a lilting tone that you can’t help but fall for, while the lyrics capture the feeling of being left on your own: ‘There’s nothing to do in this fucking town without you. There’s nothing to do in this fucking world without you’. We can hear elements of Sparklehorse, The Magnetic Fields and Casiotone for the Painfully Alone in these songs, although the following ‘Found Your Old Casio in the Attic’ (at 3 minutes and 20 seconds, the longest song on the album) has more drone elements. As this merges into ‘Baked Beans’, delicate acoustic guitar is welcomed back through the feedback like the sun breaking through the clouds at dawn.
‘Playing Hooky’ has talk of feeling like shit and wishing you had something to say, while ‘You in front of the chapel’ is altogether more serene yet no less atmospheric. With a Beta Band-style approach to songcraft, it has a goosebump-inducing bass line as Maxim pleads for more time over and over again. ‘Powder Worries’ has clearer guitar sounds and a sample as Maxim rather cruelly sings ‘I’d rather be with you the way you used to be’ while the closing ‘Such a Beautiful Thing’ is a rhythmic piece with whispered vocals that seem to capture an otherworldy sense of paranoia.
Using keyboards, borrowed guitars, iPhone recording and other samples, Plant Food’s album is one that is full of hidden surprises. Much like the koalas and their trees, you’ll want to wrap yourself around it and cling on for a long time to come.