The Fauna and the Flora
This EP feels more like a double A-side single than the half album its tracklist makes it out to be. The two hit songs, the springtime traipse ?The Fauna and the Flora are too Closely Aligned? and the more tempestuous ?East, West & I?, are bracketed by lilting prologue ?Kentucky Society Drought? and epilogue ?Lullaby for a Warmonger?, and the whole thing is ended by the previously released bonus track ?City Walls & Empires?. I don’t recall ever hearing the framing tracks live, so the fact that they have been used specifically and exclusively for this CD lends it a sense of theatricality that sits nicely with Institut Polaire.
The discreteness of this EP, underlined by its intro and outro, heightens its sense of being an introductory missive promising something greater further down the line. Though the songs on The Fauna and the Flora are good, this promise is welcome. Recorded predominantly as introductions, these songs are like mere sketches of the gigantic, layered, textured oil paintings that you get the sense Institut Polaire desire to make. Still, they tell you what the band is about – strategically tinkered-with sound, serious pop, the interplay of layers, the interlay of melodies, lyrics cleverer and fresher than most, striving toward the effulgent climax that is their genre’s ultimate achievement. They have sat the ball up nicely with this EP; hopefully the album will knock it out of the park.