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Review – People In Planes "Beyond The Horizon" (2008) September 26, 2008

Posted by rawkfistmusic in 2008, People in Planes.
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Written by Andrew

From Robots In The Sky, to Tetra Splendour, to People In Planes. It took a few tries to get the name thing right for the latter-mentioned Welsh indie rockers, but that’s about as much effort as they’ve had to put into anything. Not but two years into their existance did People In Planes pick up a record deal with EMI records and dropped their debut (still as Tetra Splendour) in 2002. Six years later the band has a new name, a new label (Wind-Up) and a fresh new sound that could take this band to Bloc Party-esque proportions. Pretty big standards I know, but I can’t help but believe as I listen to the latest from these flying pedestrians, Beyond The Horizon.

A strange keyboard tone begins this album, shortly followed by the lone voice of frontman Gareth Jones as he almost whispers the opening lines of “Last Man Standing”. What begins as a somber affair with slowly introduced instruments, escalates into a near-anthemic epic as Jones repeats “I’ll be the last man still surviving,” over and over to powerful rhythmic music. Once the song comes to close you’re left pondering what just happened. That was your mind being blown, and that’s only the beginning.

Cracking lightning sweeps you into Kris Blight’s bass line for “Mayday (M’aidez)” and a standard beat follows until the low crooning of Jones slips into the song, then the backing vocals commence shortly after before bringing down the powerful chorus. “Mayday mayday, you know me better than I know myself,” Jones sings emotionally as a torrent of music surrounds him, never overlapping badly, but remaining cohesive and complimentary at all times. This thrill ride of a track lasts a near five minutes and every second is worth a listen. To say this album reaches it’s peak after two tracks is truth, but is not to say Beyond The Horizon is a bad album, simply that those two tracks are just that good.

“Get On The Flaw” continues the trend of unusual starts with a beat that resembles early Lostprophets before separating from that idea entirely and creating a unique harmonic mix from several instruments. A cowbell is just about the only thing missing from the equation. At this point Jones’ voice is continuing to astound and it’s not that he is, in fact, incredibly good, it’s just that his voice and the music compliment each other perfectly, rising and falling at just the right times, toying with your emotions. “Pretty Buildings” demonstrates this perfectly as Jones perfectly delivers the line “And I know it hurts like hell” with the music, creating a spine-chilling effect. This is an album-long theme.

It’s not until the title track hits more than halfway through the album that you listen to anything even half-matching the kind of music you’re used to. Every song has it’s own style, it’s own flow, it’s own collection of instrumental genius, yet not one feels out of place. The album blends cohesively and has a strangely retro feel to it, a kind of sound that the term “Indie” rock was invented over (just don’t get me started on that word). People In Planes at various times sound similar to other acts, especially fellow Europeans like Bloc Party and Lostprophets, but never for more than a moment or two before divulging into their own little world once more. People In Planes takes the concept of originality, crumples it up, eats it, spits it out, lights it on fire, and then reinvents in completely. The entire album is the likes of which you’ve simply never heard.

Among the painful flaws stands the track “Vampire” a sloth of a song which outstays it’s welcome by the end of the first minute. It sadly removes “Evil With You” from the rest of the album with it’s intrusion, but still does little to ruin a mind-numbing experience. Beyond The Horizon isn’t perfect it turns out. The whole album runs a little mellow, which is a shame when you see what the group can do with a song like “Mayday (M’aidez)” and no one member of the band stands out as a true strength. But as a unit, People In Planes is a decisively original beast with a lot going for it, and it’ll take a listen or two of this glorious record just to sort out your thoughts on it. The first couple of times, just listen and enjoy.

The Point – Beyond The Horizon is a sprawling, Indie epic with traces of the best acts from it’s genre, but mostly powered by the genius originality of the band responsible for it. The lyrics, musicianship, and production are not to be forgotten on one of the likely hidden gems of the year.

9.5 out of 10

Download This – “Mayday (M’aidez)”

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Comments»

1. Anonymous - November 7, 2008

Okay..you effed THAT review up:
First, Gareth Jones DOES NOT begin singing the first song…it is the guitarist, Gareth doesn’t come in until the soaring chorus-y part. Second, the lyrics are “I am the last man stand survivor, I’ll be the last man home”.

2. Gravity - November 17, 2008

Thank you, I’ll be sure to fire my lyric-finder, as well as who ever could have told me who actually sang that part, cause as far as I know, it doesn’t really say anywhere.


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