People Like You - Verse

by Jason Atkinson Rating:8 Release Date:2017-07-21

People Like You, with their new album Verse, call themselves ‘indie jazz.’ A pretty apt description I’d say in the sense that the group plays around with expectation, surprising the listener with mixed-meters, entr’actes, and other stuff that folks who have a more than a passing knowledge of the musical arts might appreciate. 

The female lead has a lovely vocal, often too buried in the mix—sometimes an Edie Brickell sound, at times like 90’s band Lush. The male vocal, more spoken and straightforward, reminds me of bands like Seam and Slint. “You Need A Visa” is an excellent opener, evoking Polvo and nineties Chapel Hill music scene weirdness. A lot of great stop-and-start drumming from a very talented and lyrical drummer, although he could probably go down in the mix a bit. Did a drummer mix this album? “Baker” is another great one in a similar vein, it sounds very busy and impressive, yet one wonders if the technical facility might be getting in the way of the clear presentation of ideas. 

“Thumbnail” has an open-ended introduction followed up with a strong songwriting. “And if you call me I’m sorry if I don’t call you back/I take some time to react.” I sincerely hope that they called back eventually. Because that’s not cool. “Variations on an Aria” features trumpet doubling the vocal. The trumpet, by the way, is sensitive throughout and adds a nice touch to the group--they should keep him around. 

There are a series of “Kneeplays,” interludes basically. This was a terminology used by Phillip Glass’ and his famous “Einstein on the Beach” opera. I enjoyed listening to them all and, as a complete album listening experience, they seem to work quite well. 

Finally, there is “Sleeptalk,” closing the album. This is one of the best songs of the bunch. I like it mainly because the band seems to get out of the way of themselves here and allow the song to express itself fully. The music then builds to a great climax, tipping the hat to groups like Arcade Fire. 

This is a Boston group, and when I think of Boston I think of so many great bands, but, and perhaps, unfortunately, the one that lately jumps to mind is the white sauce R&B emulsion Lake Street Dive. Though I see the appeal, I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the Dive on Lake Street. Thankfully there are People Like You—an antidote to the slickness. I recommend a listen and, should you find yourself near a venue where they are performing, a show-a-going session. 

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