Temporary People is one of the most anticipated albums of Joseph Arthur's career (first place going to his debut, Big City Secrets). Capping over a year of release activity, with no less than four EPs leading up to his full-length for 2008, the LP seems fit to function as a cap on Arthur's continuing development as a songwriter (as well as the ongoing cohesion of his band, the Lonely Astronauts). Right from the opening title track, Arthur's songwriting shows refreshing vigor given all the activity. Arthur and his band are just as endearingly ramshackle as ever, quickly taking their place as one of the best alternative bands since the Replacements at sounding ragged and delightfully off the rails (especially so ever since Wilco became such willful perfectionists). Blistering rockers ("Sunrise Dolls") sit well next to heartbroken ballads ("Say Goodbye"), and the band's roller-coastering aesthetic is perfectly suited for Arthur's rambling, half-coherent delivery. If nothing here is as immediate as the highlights of Let's Just Be, the songs grow into an effortless blend of contemporary singer/songwriter quality and retro bar band flair. (More than even the recent EPs, Temporary People displays the Lonely Astronauts becoming one of the best backing bands in the business, a worthy complement to the heart-on-his-sleeve emphasis of Arthur's songwriting.) Not all of Arthur's lines scan perfectly, though; one head-scratcher comes from "Say Goodbye" -- "The letter you left me was laced with your perfume/Like a butterfly tryin' to fly back into her cocoon." If fans are expecting Temporary People to be a giant leap following a four-EP run down the track, they might be disappointed. Temporary People is simply another ragged-but-right release from one of contemporary alternative's most natural-sounding bands.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by John Bush