The band's breakthrough album, Emergency and I, is full of disco-powered rave-ups that inject the classic post-punk guitar jangle of Fugazi and the Pixies with a highly combustible load of hormonal dance-floor madness. Which isn't to say that the Plan is a one-trick pony. On its latest album, Change, the group dialed back the whiplash factor a couple of notches, yielding a calmer, poppier record.
Eric Axelson's funky, grooving bass lines and Joe Easley's finely nuanced drumming show a maturity that owes more to R&B than to disco, while guitarist Jason Caddell generously shares his time up front with a bevy of mood-enhancing string parts and Moog swells. Even Morrison, who was always prone to angst-ridden vocal explosions on the group's earlier efforts, has lowered his Saturday-night fever, settling on a temperate delivery that melds Dave Matthews with Eddie Vedder and provides the perfect medium for his poetic lyrics, which can make everyday observations seem like mind-expanding philosophy. What it all boils down to is a coming-of-age that makes Change the group's most powerful work to date and one of the best pop albums of 2001.