Sunday, January 22, 2006


File Under: Indie Rock
Label: Wind-up Records
The great chasm for any musician is the distance between what they hear in their heads and what reaches listeners' ears. Unless you're a band committed to either effete esoterica or stage-humping feral lunacy, your success largely depends on how well you reconcile the purity of your musical ideas with an audience's need for hooks and melody. This is what makes People In Planes so welcome: their music is equally ambitious and pleasing. The band's debut: As Far As The Eye Can See is a richly atmospheric, sometimes challenging album that doesn't stint on inviting melody and anthemic choruses. In other words, this five-piece band from Cardiff, Wales traverses the long distance between visionary flights of imagination and simple rock pleasures as easily as, well, people in planes.
Yes, the band name -- even that was created with a sense of equilibrium, guitarist Peter Roberts explains that "it's quite a wacky image, the idea of the whole globe being such a small place and people floating around the world in these little tin cans," but also hastens to add "it's essentially a cool-sounding name, really." He continues, "I like the image that people in planes aren't exactly where they came from, and aren't quite where they're heading to yet. It's a nice representation of how people are always unwittingly on a conveyor belt, taking them through time to their destiny."
Things weren't always so well balanced. People In Planes started out with a penchant for the abstract, and armed with more ambition than skill. "We were trying to make esoteric music when we were really too young to really pull it off," Peter says, "Our ideas were a little beyond our abilities."
Peter explains the transformation evinced by tracks like "Falling By the Wayside," with its haunting chorus and plaintive, acoustic beginning, or the stirring "For Miles Around," simply: "We happen to write better songs now than we did before." But to really understand how People In Planes arrived at As Far As The Eye Can See, you have to go back to when he and singer Gareth Jones were young pals on a family vacation together, and how the record that made them want to be in a band eventually made them a better one.
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