People Are Expensive

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AllMusic Review by Dean Carlson

After the weary Lustra, Echobelly found themselves on the receiving end of negative press, corrupt accountants, and the frustrations of starting out on their own independent record label. But all is well in the unwell for the band's fourth album, with Sonya Aurora Madan sounding as progressively paranoid as ever -- in "Ondine," she sings "But this is the plastic age/The quiet rage is damned and civilised"; in "Digit," "There's no disease, the human race is digital/Pacified by fluoride, genetically modified" -- and the undercooked production catching and redirecting her stark rhymes without undermining their meaning. In fact, the open-aired, twilight hum that co-producer Ben Hillier creates goes some way to expand what was once Echobelly's unobstructed angst. "Kali Yuga" is exclamatory yet by no means overbearing. There's a relaxed hope in normally melancholic lines like "I'm dying, give me symphonies," with sketched out sonics recalling those summertime nights of pensive stargazing when a cold soda and the right tune could make you believe that no matter how tempting or attractive a sense of futility may be, it's lazy and destructive, and probably a religion for poets lacking imagination. In a sense, Echobelly are more bleak than ever before but with considerable more confidence. They've managed to ignore their ill fortune and suffer through the hecklers, and have -- in the best possible way -- given listeners a 54-minute soundtrack for the paper bag scene in American Beauty.

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