Album Review: Certain People I Know - Certain People I Know - Already Heard
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Album Review: Certain People I Know - Certain People I Know

Bob Nanna appears to be on a inverted curve of progressive catharsis. From Braid to Certain People I Know by way of Hey Mercedes, his fragile yet strangely soothing tones have proved the spine unto which have stuck the earlier math-emo of sorts as well as the indie-pop leanings of Hey Mercedes and new project Certain People I Know. Anyone expecting a return to the more aggressive nature of Braid might be disappointed, while enthusiasts of Hey Mercedes will find that many of its musical elements re-emerge here along with a couple of healthy additions.

Certain People I Know's approach is emphatically melodic with Nanna's laid-back vocal presence less focal than usual with the inclusion of Lauren LoPiccolo's tender sound (she also (wo)mans the synth). 'Neverlasting' is a confident introduction to the band: breathy, quirky with a hint of what the French call blasé. Nanna and LoPiccolo’s sweet harmonies perfectly embody their cocktail of punk undertones and fragile sensibility. The latter is allowed more time to put her own stamp on to great success. The track feels effortless and the chorus might well have been stripped straight out of a Wes Anderson film, but it’s also Certain People I Know at their most accomplished.

'NYE' is the album’s first foray outside of the simplest rhythmics. The track is simply more inspired instrumentally and allows for elegant pauses, a sweet chorus and verses that simmer with a bit more vigor. ‘King Of Shots’ is Certain People I Know going back to basics, and it is therefore unsurprising to see them leaning towards a punkier sound. ‘Rowdy-Pivotal’ and ‘Make It Up’, sadly, are mostly filler but they clear the way for closer ‘How Was The Show (Politics)’. LoPiccolo is at the forefront here over a soft, swooning combination of guitar arpeggios and background organ. It’s an unexpected move, and its a successful one in the form of a pretty and earnest lullaby .

Certain People I Know is a short first taste of the quirky, emo-lite indie-pop from Nanna and co, but it’s also too close an extension of Hey Mercedes to be truly compelling as a progression. On its own merits though, Certain People I Know is highly competent, often sweet to the ear and, on occasion, quite fantastic. Guided by an elegant flow, the album ends quickly, so there’s time to go back to the little gems and moments when they truly shine.

3.5/5

'Certain People I Know' by Certain People I Know is available now through Count Your Lucky Stars Records.

Certain People I Know links: Facebook

Words by James Berclaz-Lewis (@swissbearclaw)

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