October 5, 2016
EP: Human People - Veronica
In the first track off of Human People’s Veronica tape, vocalist Hayley Livingston divulges something about herself, seemingly as both an explanation and a disclaimer: “I know that I’m a Cancer / Trying to latch on / Sorry that I’m a Cancer,” she sings. For us astrology freaks out there, knowing that Livingston is a water sign might just help us sense where she’s coming from, and perhaps even what is coming next. And astrologically speaking, Livingston’s lyrical contributions to Veronica/Sleep Year are very Cancerian in a handful of ways. On “Cancer,” Livingston provides the listener with an astrological frame of reference that has become extremely important to young people for gaining a context for each other that we might not glean otherwise upon first encounter. In these terms, the tape feels like a Cancer as much as it does a Gemini or a Scorpio. That is to say, members Livingston and Marisa Gershenhorn’s songwriting is bold and emotionally honest, yet remains clever and tongue-in-cheek.
The tape itself encompasses two releases: the three song Veronica is followed by Human People’s first EP, Sleep Year. Livingston and Gershenhorn split vocal and songwriting duties on both albums, yet a harmony remains throughout the entire release. Musically, each song is dance-y and grungy at the same time. Lyrically, the songs capture the frustrations and anxieties that come along with being a young, marginalized woman in today’s world. Exhibiting this tension, the second song on Veronica, “I Don’t Want to Go Outside,” starts out slow, with bare guitar and vocals, as Livingston states “I don’t want to go to your apartment and have to walk back alone / I don’t want to stay out late.” She captures an all-consuming and totally buzz-killing reality that women and marginalized people are faced with when going out alone, especially at night. After the scene is set, drummer Vicki Guillem tactfully and steadily comes in, offering slow fills at all the right times as the rest of the band follows. "Máquina," off of Sleep Year, exhibits similar qualities, but is set to a completely different pace. Over a catchy, new-wave inspired guitar riff, Livingston sings, “I can see all the waves just drifting away and I’m not having fun,” conveying the too real experience of being lost and tired while being pulled in all directions by the flow of the world. The chorus explodes and bassist Abby Austin pumps out a prominent and dexterous bass line as Livingston sings, “I’m so sad so I’ll get a job / I’ll be glad to be a cog.” “Cell” comes in particularly strong with a stopping start and an intensely catchy lead guitar part, as Gershenhorn defiantly repeats, “You can ignore me, but I’m still here.”
Judging by this release, Human People is a band that will soon be hard to ignore. They skillfully capture emotions of fatigue and detachment - feelings that so many cool young freaks have been forced into feeling - without falling into the trap of apathy, something that comes not only through their lyrics but through their music, all of which is presented with obvious-yet-cool care. And as a Cancer myself, I appreciate that deeply.
Listen to Human People on bandcamp.
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