People in Planes CD Review: Indie Rock Debut from Welsh Band

If the point of origin is the United Kingdom and the musical classification is rock, then the listener is generally going to find one of two categories. On one hand, the music most likely will feature soaring anthems, sappy melodies and plenty of falsetto for all. On the other, it could be so experimental or even cryptic in nature that accessibility is automatically out of the equation.

For the Welsh quintet known as People in Planes, these choices for placement simply won’t work. Their Wind-up Records debut, As Far As The Eye Can See, should vouch for their melodic ability to reach the masses. After all, the label is also home to such radio-friendly rock fare as Seether and Evanescence. However, don’t let the company they share keep you from giving them a chance.

Formerly known as Tetra Splendour, the band was originally signed by EMI/Chrysalis imprint Wishakismo in 2001. However, after a shake-up at the label, the band was released from their contract. Keyboardist Ian Russell then joined and the name People in Planes was formed. Then a performance at the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas in 2005 caught the eyes and ears of Wind-up and the rest is history.

People in Planes seem more like a conglomeration of various rock formats rather than their own cohesive identity. Tracks such as “Moth” or “Token Trapped Woman” evoke harmonies reminiscent of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Flea would be especially jealous of the bass line in the former. “Fallen By The Wayside” is tailor-made for modern rock radio as a ballad that could have an extended stay on the airwaves. “For Miles Around (Scratch To Void)” is more typical Brit-rock with its memorable, emotional chorus.

Perhaps there is no better example of their ability to experiment within the boundaries of mass appeal than the lead single, “If You Talk Too Much (My Head Will Explode).” Opening with a saloon-style piano, birds chirping, and an older woman cooing the song’s title, the track transitions seamlessly to an acoustic-driven verse and then on to an explosive Brit-rock chorus.

Walking the fine line, People in Planes has crafted one of the more solid rock debuts of 2006.

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