Review: People Like You’s Whimsical Sophomore Album, ‘Verse’
This time of year often finds me falling back on the musical habits that I formed in the Summer before my senior year of high school. I’m usually on a feverish hunt for the kind of blistering hooks and high-energy nonsense that exist within the problematic world of pop-punk. This year’s been a little different for me. I’ve been looking for something warmer and chasing after sounds that elicit a feeling of calmness that only a breezy Summer afternoon can usually usher in. People Like You, with the sensuality of their jazz influence and near angelic vocals, offer exactly that with the release of their sophomore album, and Topshelf Records debut, Verse.
Allow me to recall for you the circumstances in which I first heard this record from start to finish. It was hot enough that the air conditioner that’s found a home in the only window my bedroom has to offer seemed to be whirring with exhaustion, the lights were off, and I sunk into my twin-sized mattress with my eyes affixed to the ceiling. The opening moments of “You Need a Visa” carried the sort of whimsy that made the listening experience feel magical and romantic despite its tragic locale. This charm never seemed to wear off either; the whole of the experience felt like the kind of joy that you usually find in an album’s strong three to four track run, except it was the whole thing and was only briefly broken up by the playfulness of the instrumental “kneeplay” tracks, “Orchid Hunter,” “On Rain and How It Reminds Me of Glass,” and “This Apple is Really Depressed (Reprise).”
Verse almost completely exists in this plane of sensuality because it’s smoothness and warmth. To quickly touch on this, I’m not entirely sure what has informed the opinion that a well played trumpet equals sensuality, but there’s something about it that it evokes a feeling of smokiness and elusiveness that I can’t help but feel excited by. The only reprieve from this vibe come from the frantic urgency of “Hackensack Hospital.” The track whirs around you and feels like a chaotic peak in a way that perfectly embodies the lyrical content being brought to the table. The track doesn’t dance around the content with metaphors, cutting almost immediately to informing the listener that this was written about seeing one’s grandmother in the hospital. The hook of “How far is heaven? Well, I hope it’s too far to spare the gas/How long is your lifespan? ‘Cause you got me fooled to think it’s far ahead” is immediately resonant and makes this chaotic change of pace feel important and welcomed.
The album comes to a close in a moment of pure bliss; the undeniable power and talent of People Like You as musicians is in full effect, with everything seemingly crashing around the repetition of the phrase “We’ve all become victims of the shorter days.” It all just feels wild and like a moment of release that they’ve been building up to, waiting to just lay it all on the line for a few seconds of catharsis. Verse is the kind of album that grabs you with it’s charm but implores you to stay for the emotional resonance and pure artistry that People Like You bring to their craft.