Monday, October 27, 2008
ALBUM OF THE DAY
People in Planes - Beyond the Horizon, released 2008 (Wind-Up)
People in Planes' début album was... well, it wasn't that good. Full of ridiculously stupid lyrics and plain guitar pop, it was a failed attempt at trying to master the tricky ground of combining pop tunes with a slightly experimental edge. It was also obvious that the band was trying way-too-hard to master the off-kilter indie pop-rock of Biffy Clyro, falling flat on their collective face in the process.
Thankfully, the band have learned from their mistakes. Ditching the trite, nonsensical lyrics and annoying choruses, they've stopped trying to write quirky pop songs and now the song-writing has become more focused and structured sounding like experimental alt rock rather than the prog-pop they went for on their début, but the progressive edge is still indeed there.
Opening with the organ-infused “Last Man Standing,” it's initially a sombre piece with the mournful Moby-esque vocals of front-man Gareth Jones, but quickly builds up some energy as upbeat keys and rackety acoustics are added. Leading in to the next track, which is also the first single, “Mayday (M'aidez)” sounds like the excellent experimental love-child between Muse and dredg. Verses of a bobbling Muse bassline ignite into choruses of stratospheric dredgery (yup, that reverb we all know and love) and is packaged complete with a catchy chorus.
While they've ceased capping their song-writing ability by aiming straight for radio play, there are a couple of airwave playlist-friendly tracks here, but this time for all of the right reasons. “Get on the Flaw” has an almost Kenna-like hip-hop beat to it but is littered with intricate guitar sounds, and second single “Pretty Buildings” is ready for hit song status. “Better Than Life” sounds like another Muse radio-rocker with its urgent and frantic fuzzed-out riffs.
Vocalist Gavin Jones has quite an impressive range and his full extent is realized on this record. At times he can sound comparable to the mellow crooning of Kenna or the emotive wail of Biffy Clyro's Simon Neil, and continuing to mix it up further, “Flesh and Blood” is a bit of a wild card as it had me checking the playlist to see if a rogue Coldplay song had somehow made its way on there with Jones pulling out an exceptional impression of Chris Martin's radio-friendly mumbling.
Towards the end of the album, the band wanders further out into new territory and deep into Oceansize's waters. If you ever wanted to know what Biffy Clyro would sound like genetically spliced with Oceansize, listen to “I Wish You'd Fall Apart” and “Vampire.” The former opens up with oceanic guitar tones and washy ethereal ambiance which is a blatant rip off of Oceansize's “Rinsed” only re-written and packaged into a neat pop song.
People In Planes have stepped up their game big-time from their début record, but Beyond the Horizon is hardly an original album, as it clearly draws from a number of influences. Listening to it will surely give you musical deja vu and leave you scratching your head trying to rid the brain-itch of continually wondering to yourself: “Where have I heard that bit before?” While their intent on their début seemed to be severely diluted by too many bland attempts for radio glory, they've chosen not to limit themselves this time around and have included a few radio-friendly rockers, but have also injected them with an admirable experimental edge. Album stand-out “Mayday (M'aidez)” is what the single “If You Talk Too Much My Head Will Explode” should've sounded like had it not been restrained by radio intent, and these are the type of singles you need to release if you want to gain both mainstream exposure whilst simultaneously appealing to the experimental / art-rock crowd. -Rich Taylor (decoymusic.com)
For fans of: Biffy Clyro, Dredg, Muse, Radiohead, etc.
Posted by Dan Goldin at 10:00 AM