People in Planes – Beyond the Horizon
Record Label: Windup
Release Date: September 9, 2008
People in Planes have promptly returned with their sophomore effort two years after As Far as the Eye Can See, an album that many would see as a collection of favorable filler tracks and occasional sparks of brilliance. The group’s real problem on the debut was their tendency to float around between styles, never really fusing them but instead just plopping a bluesy song down here, an experimental song down there, and some Radiohead homage in various places in between. As a result, People in Planes came off a lot better as a singles band than an album band.
Surely, the second attempt will find them matured, working out all the kinks from the formula, acting on all the promise they seem to not know that they have. Wrong. Beyond the Horizon is not People in Planes’ The Bends. Instead, it’s such a similar album in aesthetic and content to the debut that every song sounds like you’ve heard it before, even on the first listen. And that makes sense, because if you own As Far as the Eye Can See, you basically have heard all these songs before.
They’re still doing the randomly-dancey thing (“Get on the Flaw”), and it still doesn’t live up to its potential. But at least it holds the listener’s attention a whole lot better than the power ballad “Know by Now”, the chorus of which could have been borrowed from 3 Doors Down (I shit you not). They change it up with their attempt at heavy music on “Better than Life,” but the results are the same as they always are: this has been done before, and it’s been done better. In this particular instance, Muse would be the group’s muse (eh?), but there are influences everywhere and none of them are very well disguised or blended.
Nope, nothing on this album is going to blow your mind… but, to be fair, if you were to hear a track or two on your buddy’s I-pod, you’d probably keep it playing. It’s not like the guys aren’t talented musicians. They’re as catchy and lovable as a cover band who just won’t play the song that you came to hear. It’s not impossible to get into a handful of these tracks (“Vampire”, “Mayday”, etc.), as long as you skip the clunkers. Worth hearing if you dug the first disc.