It's hard to know whether to cry or cheer for the Plastic Constellations, who are celebrating the release of their fourth album at First Avenue Saturday by officially going on hiatus. On the downside, the boys of TPC -- they'll forever seem like boys, having been together since their freshman year at Hopkins High and still only in their late 20s -- are more or less caving in to the fiscal and logistical realities of living the rock 'n' roll dream circa 2008.

They made a good go of it in 2006, when their third album "Crusades" came out, and they spent four or five months touring. They had a blast, but little to show for their efforts.

"I probably had the greatest year of my life in 2006," said Jeff Allen, one of TPC's two singer/guitarists. "But it's really tough for bands out there now, and it's harder when you have loved ones at home you have to leave, like we do now."

And that's where the upside comes into play. The four Plastic Constellations are calling an end to their nearly 13-year run at a young enough age to try their luck elsewhere. They can go to school for an MBA and start a family, both of which Allen plans to do. They can settle down with a wife and a steady mechanic job, as bassist Jordan Roske has in store. They can try to make it in the art world as a painter, as drummer Matt Scharenbroich will do.

And if they really insist on sticking with rock 'n' roll, they can make beats for a burgeoning Twin Cities hip-hop crew. "I'm the one who's still clinging to the dream," joked Aaron Mader, the band's other singer/guitarist, who works with the Doomtree clan under his alias Lazerbeak.

"On one hand, it was a hard decision to make because we've all been in this one band for so long that it's all we know," Mader recalled. "But it was probably easier for us because we've all known each other so long. We're able to say what we think and not hurt anybody's feelings."

The decision thus defined the new album, from its open-ended salutary title "We Appreciate You" to the way the band went about recording it. "We knew we wouldn't have the pressure of having to play these songs live on tour six weeks a night, so that opened up the possibilities a lot," Allen explained.

None of the songs on "We Appreciate You" is specifically about the end of the band, but there's a sense of accomplishment and a thankful attitude throughout. In fact, the album sounds so celebratory -- and the guys so affectionate toward one another -- that no one really believes this is the final note in the band's history."We're definitely not calling this a breakup," Allen admitted. For now, though, they are calling Saturday's release party at First Avenue their farewell show.

A funny thing happened in the interim between finishing the album and the rehearsals for their last few gigs, though: The guys found themselves hanging out together even more than before.

"Now, we just go over to one guy's house and drink some beers, nothing musical," Allen said. "We're having as much fun as we ever had."