Thursday, September 24, 2009

People - (1996)

People is Babe at its most straightforward and ingratiatingly rock-like. (Another view would call it calculatingly commercial, but that doesn't seem to be what's going on here.) Sounding unnervingly like the Presidents of the United States of America at times (most pointedly on the tense, bass-heavy "Can't Stand Up," "Rube Goldberg" and the explosive "Family Picnic"), the album peels away the band's difficult exterior for such best-behavior charmers as "Breathe," "Stand by Your Man" (no, not that one), the sweet-sounding/sour-tongued "Memphis" and Rose Thomson's gorgeous "Wake Up," which could pass for a lost Lisa Loeb single. If People attracts new fans who won't care much for the band's trickier back catalogue, it's clear that the same wry intelligence and highly individual musical ambition is at work both here and there.

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