Echobelly - People Are Expensive

It happens to us all and there's little we can do to escape the ageing process. Youth and all its angsty rebellion. That me against the world mentality that we all have and then we grow up, settle down and realize that all you need is a little peace and love. I'm sure the Sonya of old that cried "Give Her A Gun" would have laughed a the very suggestion of her mellowing out and finding a little soul. But in the words of Oscar Wilde "the wise always contradict themselves". It was this headstrong attitude that prompted the band to jump ship from a label that didn't understand artistic freedom and simply wanted "Great Things" times 10. Hence the band set up their own label Fry Up and remain one of the few true independent bands on the scene and I mean that as the highest compliment.

"People Are Expensive" is perhaps the most complete cohesive Echobelly recording to date. While at times "Lustra" lacked direction, that need to experiment perhaps clashing with the bands pop sensibilities, "People....." seems melancholic yet at the same time there's an absolute sense of freedom flowing throughout the whole record. Those fans looking for a hint of the "old Echobelly will find refuge in the recent single "Tell Me Why" and "A Map Is Not A Territory". The latter adding touches of electronica over what essentially could be and "E.G.O" out-take. Elsewhere its all semi-acoustic laments to a time long gone and its here where the album really grows. Sonya's vocals given the chance to breath over a lightly sprinkled bed of brushed beats, bleeps and lightly strummed acoustica. Lyrically honest and emotive and perhaps unsettling at times for the listener. Even the seemingly innocent closer "Point Dume" shares its name with a well known suicide spot in California.

Out of the hard times the band have made the only record they could - individual, eclectic, experimental and dashed with a melancholic undercurrent. "People....." is unlikely to make a dent in the mainstream but it never was intended to compete with the latest Jeff Buckley tribute act or the latest pre-packed teen sensations. At a time when music has become stale and predictable it makes sense that Echobelly come back with their most adventurous album yet.

Alex McCann