All People to release third album “S/T”

All+People+to+release+third+album+%22S%2FT%22

Ben Shooter, Associate Arcade Editor

All People has already been playing many of the songs from its third album, “S/T,” live for months in advance of its release, sometimes relying almost exclusively on new material. This is a bold move for a band with two other albums to draw from, but perhaps the band realized what the new recordings reveal: settling into a more distinct and consistent sound.

While in the past, the band has explored everything from heavy rock to ska, this album seems cohesive, unified by guitarist Josh Campell’s gritty, dissonant riffs and keyboardist, vocalist and trombonist Daniel “D-Ray” Ray’s dreamy synth textures, which seem to have moved a little more to the forefront.

The album starts with “Slow,” which grows from one deliberate, building riff to a crescendo full of wild drum fills and a trombone solo that seems all too fleeting. While not as memorable as the tracks that follow, “Slow” is a reasonable opener that gives listeners a taste of what to expect from the rest of the album. This is followed by songs like “Plain Essential Language,” and “Fearful / Sick,” which juxtapose the unexpected: dream-pop synth sounds with grinding guitar chords that on their own might be closer to Violent Soho. The resulting musical textures are ridiculously engaging.

An early version of “Naught” was already available to anyone who paid attention to the more recent Community Records compilation, but the song’s final version sounds both more polished and more in-your-face. The heavy bass synth played by Greg Rodrigue, along with Campbell’s staccato picking, work together to create one of the most memorable musical ideas the album contains.

Another highlight is the track “Moonsteps,” which is recognizable as a central song in many of the band’s recent live sets. Featuring All People’s catchiest bass line yet and some vocal call and response between Ray and Rodrigue, the song settles into a cool, driving section that is equal parts Sonic Youth and Metric. Fans of the band’s live performances may also recognize the guitar riff that kicks off “Balloon,” an equally compelling song thanks to its brooding refrain of “mother Mary of the cross / you don’t know how lucky we are” that finds release in an explosive trombone solo by Ray.

The instrumental track “New Rain” is a nice respite from the dense textures of several of the other tracks on the album, adding variety with its strategic sparseness, and a trombone passage by Ray that flirts with a very jazz-inspired sound. Instrumentals on rock albums can often feel like filler, but “New Rain” seems purposeful, serving a similar purpose to “Any Colour You Like” from Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon.”

While the album does boast some interesting vocal and lyrical passages, All People truly shines on its new album in its instrumental arrangements. The musicians don’t seem afraid to let the vocals sit out entirely for long passages and let the instrumental melodies do the talking, even outside of “New Rain.” It’s worth noting as well that the band seems to draw influence just as much from its contemporaries in the scene as well as the post-punk greats. The songs on “S/T” sit nicely alongside Sonic Youth, but they sit just as nicely alongside Sun Hotel or even Donovan Wolfington.