Learn Forget RepeatAsian Man Records / Community Records
By Cole Faulkner
As humans we have an innate desire to classify the world around us. Shapes are defined by vertices, weather by temperature and humidity, people by race, and the list goes on. When it comes to music, we attempt to pigeonhole sounds based on similar tempos, beats and instruments into genres. But music is an art, and a subjective one at that. Musicians that embrace such ideas challenge what we know about conventional classification, encouraging listeners to remove their empirical lenses and embrace the creative expressions in front of them.
Punk, indie, and just about anything with a “post” prefix occupies the spiritual place of “miscellaneous” – an outsider attitude that unifies otherwise disparate bands like Andrew Jackson Jihad, Trophy Scars, Hotel Of The Laughing Tree, Elliot Brood and countless others. The aptly named and emerging up and coming indie-punk act All People falls squarely in the same boat. For their sophomore effort, Learn Forget Repeat, the New Orleans four-piece has a limb in as many alt-leaning genres as they can.
All People break the album up into a handful of distinct segments, so any token listen is hardly enough to just to conclusions – the most holistic representation best comes to life as the track listing unfolds.
When “Consume” opens listeners wouldn’t be wrong to lump All People in with typical Asian Man Records style punk rock. The beat is straight up and progresses quickly, lightly peppered by a soft dose of catchy keyboard notes of varying origin. “Unfinished Book” continues to make a catchy statement in part thanks to experimentally distorted guitar tones with plenty of feedback and pedal work to make them more than a mere curiosity. By the time “Mind” follows up, the primary vocals define themselves as intriguingly off key – at least until the realization that they aren’t really being sung. In fact, early on the vocals feel a little like Big D & the Kids Table’ David McWane – akin to talking melodically.
While the description might seem a tad off-putting, the application in songs like “Devil” should make naysayers reconsider. The almost hypnotic, chant-like lyrical spiral, “devil will take hold of your heart, if you don’t stay sharp,” presents something of an off kilter trip into the far reaches of your subconscious. “Doubt” represents All People’s next big sonic departure in its vocally diverse, gritty and chaotic. “Don’t let the thoughts build a nest, or you will not get rest,” plants the band amidst toughening guitars and stretches of quivering organ notes. In fact, it wouldn’t feel out of place if the band hired a homeless, self-proclaimed prophet to hold a cardboard sign stating that “the end is nigh” during one of their live shows.
Just as they enter their newfound roughness, the album once again transforms into a very clear, crisp variant. A mid-tempo sensibility takes hold in “Conversations” and “Alienate” as it establishes a more substantive, full melodic sound. Eventually, a big chorus of layered, sing-along gang vocals gives way to an indie-esque bridge and accompanying twinkly finale. This is All People at their most accessible. Then the disc suddenly shifts to a casual instrumental jazz tone, complete with roving bass groove a track later with “LITWOP.”
As the album enters the final leg, an almost cinematic element takes hold. Amidst a roughneck guitar backdrop, “Disfunction” directs attention to the singular, climactic statement that “The greatest achievement of humanity is not its works of art, science, or technology… the greatest thing human kind could ever hope to achieve is the recognition of our own dysfunction.” Once “Love” further explores modern chaos, “L’eternal Printemps” takes something of a mellow, operatic turn with skyward reaching aspirations and a suitably diverse sonic palette. The atmosphere sets up for a big spoken word exit that can only be described as a poetry reading about global unity. The simplicity and pathos of the effort alone makes for a very effective and sobering conclusion.
All People represents the type of band that requires close and thorough listening to be fully understood. Different segments of Learn Forget Repeat cannot be mistaken for one another, and could even be confused for entirely different bands. Yet the whole effort bares All People’s unmistakably ambitious and far reaching mark. While Learn Forget Repeat might not be for everybody (in particular segments of those David McWane-style vocals), All People certainly have potential to connect with an audience amongst those looking to challenge the status quo.