Artist: Power Animal
Title: People Songs
Genre: Indie,Experimental Pop,Lo-Fi
Release date: 2010
Audio codec: MP3
Format: tracks
Quality: V0 (VBR) Kbps
Time: 51:05 min

1. The Celebration Of A Constant Movement In A Bowl/Pool Of Leaves
2. All I Can Hear Are The Bees
3. Birds Have Worries Too!
4. It’s A Trap
5. Untitled
6. The Turn Around
7. Sometimes
8. Copernicus
9. Rabbit
10. Summer Came From Nowhere
11. Empty Parking Lot, Scary Dog, Snowing
12. Money/Pocket
13. Last Hovers/War & Video Games Pt.2
14. Dear My Body, I’m Not That Body. Dear Keith Hampson I’m Not Your Name. You Are A Shaky Boat With A Curse Upon It, But I Need You To Get To The Other Side Of The Lake.
15. Death Threat

People Songs is, for a lack of better word, difficult. Not in the sense that it’s a difficult record to digest but rather in the sense it’s difficult to pin down exactly what to make of it. It combines everything from conversation samples to string arrangements with low-key bedroom pop sensibilities that often transition into the sort of freak-folk experimenting you’d expect of a burgeoning Devandra Banhart. If anything, they certainly live up to recently founded label Waaga Records’ self-proclaimed affinity for “tough-to-define music”.

Album centerpiece “Copernicus” is one of the finest examples of the potential on show from the group. The slow-moving plod of acoustic strumming and xylophone tinkering move the sampling of various people repeating “Love is alive and well” forward in what turns out to be a surprisingly powerful song, perhaps most aided by the bands show of restraint, avoiding the typical cymbal-crashing crescendo for a comparably low-key ending that plays the song out with tact over volume. Sadly, moments like it are few and far between (“Dear My Body..”, “Rabbit” and “Birds Have Worries Too” rounding off the choice cuts) and as a whole People Songs is disappointingly stale for something as teeming with promise.

Much of the album rests on balancing its unpredictability with the then-emphasized accessibility of otherwise unassuming hooks. Moments like the fuzzy falsetto freak-out that start “Money/Pocket” exemplify the formula but are toppled by the fact that the supposedly challenging moments feel neither preceded by any transitional motif, substantiated by the otherwise pleasant pop song it fades into, nor emotionally compelling enough to make any impact, which leaves them dangling off the tightrope somewhere between pointless and indulgent. It feels like Animal Power are putting a disguise on an otherwise deceptively simple affair, as if so intent on emphasizing a sense of individuality that convention is foregone for the sake of it rather than any artistic merit. Likewise, tracks like “Empty Parking Lot, Scary Dog, Snowing” are stubbornly experimental but bring nothing to the table as a result. It’s a poor distraction tactic, like the school butterface compensating with cleavage that wouldn’t impress a female athlete, and ultimately it contributes to making People Songs a rough pill to swallow, despite the excellence of its more straightforward and accessible foundations.

It’s moments like those mentioned that drive home the irritating truth that People Songs is a bit too messy for its own good, equal parts unsure of its direction and too confident in its listener forging meaning in what is otherwise meaningless. Strike it down as another victim of unpolished songwriting but make a note: I wouldn’t be surprised to see those rough edges smoothed out with experience. This puzzle’s got all the right pieces but at the end of the day, too much time is spent trying to connect the wrong ones.