Sound — 8
People In Planes' latest album Beyond The Horizon has more than just memorable melodies going for it, particularly if you happen to be a musician who appreciates creative approaches (and the use of effects) in songwriting. While many of the 12 tracks consist of fairly traditional melodies in the chorus, it's what's going on underneath it all that gives People In Planes a bit of an edge. The guitars in themselves are worth the listen, with each song giving the instruments unique, often unusual sounds. While not every track hits a home run, you can be guaranteed at least one or two moments in each song that leave you impressed. Beyond The Horizon is actually a 2-disk set, with the traditional CD and a DVD of the entire album performed in full. The CD opens with Last Man Standing, which gives guitarist Peter Roberts a chance to tackle the vocals for the first few moments. Roberts has a grittier vocal style in comparison to frontman Gareth Jones' cleaner delivery, and it makes for a nice contrast. If you've heard Queens of the Stone Age's Lullabies To Paralyze, it has a similar feel in terms of the differing vocal styles. Last Man Standing features a nice chugging, bluesy guitar line, which is also a highlight. Get On The Flaw is an unorthodox number, with the first few seconds featuring a somber cello played in short, quick strokes Roberts. When you watch the track on the DVD it appears the band chose to sample that section on the synthesizer, but on the record there is a rich string tone to the intro. The entire track is filled with really fascinating choices guitar-wise, and there is even a section that sounds eerily like an actual siren - complements of some very cool guitar effects. The ballads don't quite live up to the faster tracks, and that may very well be because things are stripped down a bit more. Jones is consistently strong in his vocals, but things do get a bit repetitive in Pretty Buildings and Flesh and Blood. That isn't to say the band still doesn't know how to mix a brilliant guitar sound. The acoustics sound very rich, and Pretty Buildings does feature a big finish that closes that particular track up nicely.
Lyrics — 9
Beyond The Horizon is lyrically strong, and People In Planes do provide some interesting perspectives on life and relationships. The title track is particularly strong with lyrics such as, Beyond the horizons; There are no delusions; There are no musts or compulsories; It's everything it wants to be. Not every song is crystal clear in meaning, but the writing does show the band is thinking outside of the box and not content with delivering the same old rhyme schemes.
Overall Impression — 8
While the DVD is a nice touch, it's essentially the CD's track list performed live with no extras. Still, not every band supplies the live experience in a CD package, and it does give you a good feel of how exactly some of the sounds/effects are being created on Beyond The Horizon. The album itself shows that People In Planes do have the similar experimental vibe as Radiohead or Muse, although it never gets quite to the grandiose level as the previous bands. Beyond The Horizon does manage to strike an inspiring balance: It features 12 single-worthy songs, but with some wacky and musically intriguing adornments at the same time. The band is able to go from being Zeppelin-ish (Better Than Life) to dreamy (I Wish You'd Fall Apart), and it makes for a fascinating listen.