American Princes

Other People

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American Princes' ranks swelled in 2006 with the addition of guitarist/vocalist Will Boyd, and the bandmates introduce their new three-guitar attack on Other People -- not in the loud, raucous style with which the Drive-By Truckers embrace their trio of guitarists, but in a cool and controlled manner courtesy of producer Chuck Brody. Having twiddled knobs for Jennifer Lopez and Wu-Tang Clan, Brody is perhaps best known for adding rhythmic crunch and booming bass to R&B records. But Other People allows him to flex his post-punk muscles, which he previously honed with Monsters Are Waiting and exhibits here in the form of reverb-heavy guitars and slyly danceable grooves. Songs like "Son of California" and "Watch as They Go" de-emphasize simple guitar chords in favor of minimalist riffs that chime, sparkle, and entwine themselves into a wash of '80s-styled sound. The rhythm section is beefier this time around, and occasional vocalist Collins Kilgore (who controls the microphone on four songs) is even more indebted to the decade of excess, singing with a thick voice that often lapses into a slightly bulky vibrato. If American Princes ever tackle a Tears for Fears cover, Kilgore is a shoo-in for the role of Roland Orzabal. Will Boyd also assumes vocal duties for one track, but David Slade remains the band's unchallenged frontman, whether he's lending some throaty gravel to "Kid Incinerator" (one of the album's only songs to place loud, rock & roll dynamics above atmospherics) or helming a hard-hitting pop song like "Real Love." Alternating between singers allows the group to cover more territory, but unlike a band like Guster, American Princes' vocalists aren't evenly matched. Accordingly, Other People sounds its best with Slade in command, even if his style doesn't perfectly match the band's '80s state of mind.

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