Self TitledCommunity Records
By Cole Faulkner
A mere year after their prior effort, All People return for a third dose of their off kilter, emotionally unfiltered showmanship. The melodically driven, pseudo-spoken word style that last distinguished the New Orleans four-piece on Learn Forget Repeat continues to serve as an unmistakable fencepost for their self-titled LP. But this time around the band pumps the brakes, pulling back the tempo and placing their sights squarely on continuity for their latest nine-song album. All People feel more contained and calculated than in past efforts; in some ways feeling less adventurous and spontaneous in the process.
When a band reduces their pace, they better have some commendable substance to fall back on, and some exciting ideas in lieu of an energizing tempo. In this regard, All People start their self titled-full length on shaky ground, but eventually appeal to the listener upon unravelling their larger framework. “Slow” opens the disc with a familiar vocal waiver amidst the pervasive hum of distorted riffs and occasional soundboard keys. Around the halfway mark the vocal inflection jumps to communicate an elevated emotional state, offering a glimpse of the instability characteristic of All People’s past works. Follow-up “Plain Essential Language” gets a little indie-esque with humming synth, dream-pop keyboard notes, and a meandering momentum. The album starts cautiously, leaving open the question of where the band will head next.
Not until the somewhat ominous atmosphere and vocal emboldening of “Naught” does the slow moving approach really thematically cement itself as the dominant direction. In doing so though, All People thrust fans into a stylistic reorientation, all the while abandoning some of their most endearing characteristics. In other words, the departure may be too radical. For instance, “Fearful/Sick” expertly straddles a middle ground that would have been far more effective of a transition statement well in advance of its mid-album placement. Instead, the first few songs mosey along, keeping the listener waiting for a hint of familiarity that never surfaces. The album concludes drifting sleepily on the clouds of “Of You” and jangly indie art-house instrumental jazz of “New Rain.” Again, both tracks are adequately composed, but tend to lose themselves in their own artful ambitions. Put less kindly, they’re a little boring.
All People’s self titled effort is not what you’d expect given the band given the band’s historical output. While there’s nothing wrong with ambition and differentiation, All People don’t offer particularly compelling evidence that they had a firm handle of this deviation before they chose to veer off course. As it stands, the album is an interesting idea with modest execution, but fails to live up to high bar set by Learn Forget Repeat. The quirkiness remains in tact, but the band seems to have stumbled when applying a slower tempo and darker setting.