People in General are making the leap. Since their first release Piglet in 2019, the trio has grown into a full 8 piece band with horns, extra vocalists and more. The sounds on the new EP friends are more mature, with bigger, fuller arrangements. But the shift isn’t only because the band is suddenly all grown up. Like it or not, the vocalist is the most identifying element of any band, and People in General have changed that up too.
The EP’s rousing opener “Parade” has tasty pizzicato guitar licks and a lush, bright chorus of “I just wanna be happy with you – not happy for you” – one of the EP’s strongest tunes – but the real head-turner is the surprise usurping of lead vocal duties by guitarist / songwriter Ben Eberle.
Particularly noticeable on the new version of the previously released single “ICICIC,” Eberle commands the tunes with a more breathy confidence than former member and band founder Abe Dashnaw.
Remarkably, Eberle fills the shoes, or rather, replaces the shoes with cunning. You might not notice the switch amongst the slightly rearranged horn and synth lines, fresh mix, or the climactic gang vocals which feel as if fans who’ve heard the tune a thousand times got to join in on the recording.
A band is an evolving thing. If it’s well maintained, it’s also a safe space. For People in General, that safe space is somewhere between math jazz and indie rock – not a huge community, but they manage to transcend those borders.
“Friends 1” jumps that fence by climaxing to the frenzy of classic rock legends Focus with lyrics like “If I’m losing you then I want that too – did I lose you all the same?” amidst a frantic romp.
The second single “Buster,” is a night-time cruiser building to a Broken Social Scene swirl; in the vein of Silver & Gold or The Collection, with the EMO refrain “I love you so much I could die … I don’t wanna die but I don’t wanna be here anymore.”
The acoustic, narrative-driven closer “Friends 2,” shyes from the math rock, focusing on the power of storytelling. No tricks, no twists, just the most resonant musical tactic there is: honesty.
It’s hard to imagine the writing on friends as uninfluenced by the change in the band’s lineup, but it, as all music, is left up to the interpretation of the listener. Regardless of the backstory, People in General have their momentum going and it’s quite a ride.