There’s nothing quite like finding a band whose discography spans a musical lifetime. Hearing the band’s own sound develop gradually from album to album is incentive enough to listen. Stillwater-based band “Deerpeople” (stylized as DEERPEOPLE) has brought us just this incentive in their first LP.
DEERPEOPLE surfaced in 2010 with their self-titled debut EP. The five-song collection hit all the right notes of neo-folk. Buzzy guitars, soulful vocals and an organ backing every song kept it fresh and interesting at every turn. Two years later, DEERPEOPLE went down a slightly more avant-garde route with “EXPLORGASM,” their second EP. “EXPLORGASM” tuned the folk feel back a little bit and instead brought us a collection of slow baroque melodies peppered in between noise pop tracks. Two of the songs on the five-piece were even sung entirely in French.
Then there was a hiatus. An unfortunately long hiatus. The band found themselves commonly touring with other bands, though. Three years eventually did pass, however, and they released a short 30-second loop of guitar-born noise via their social media. A visit to their website got the same loop playing over and over again. A few days later, “THERE’S STILL TIME FOR US TO DIE,” their first full-length, was released.
Where the self-titled debut was electro-folk and the follow-up was noise-folk, “THERE’S STILL TIME FOR US TO DIE” came as a lo-fi surf rock album. Recorded in The Flaming Lips’ Pink Floor Studio, the album is under 40 minutes with 12 songs.
The best place to begin discussion of this album is to discuss the beginning. “No. 4,” the record’s opener, is a bombastic noise-pop masterpiece. A few seconds of slow, melancholic singing and piano begins the song, but the band seems to almost lose their patience as they rush into the lo-fi, fuzz-filled, dance-inducing second movement of the track. The line, “As God as our witness / You know that we’re coming so hard,” lets the listener know that this album is going to hit and it’s going to hit hard.
A 42-second “Prelude” follows before “Funbar,” another lo-fi piece of pop. The train doesn’t stop between “She Skates Boards, and She Gets Real High” and “Pancakes,” the track from which the 30-second tease loop was grabbed. “Reprise Pt. 1” finally begins to tune the lo-fi aesthetic down a tad and begins to slow the pace of the album.
Prior to that track, the songs had catchy hooks, fuzzy guitar and aching vocals. “Reprise Pt. 1,” or, rather, the outro for “Pancakes” marks a transition in the album. DEERPEOPLE’s trademark organ makes its return and the guitars soon begin to form a more ambient purpose. “Reprise Pt. 2” and “Impala Abdul” certainly bring the tempo back up a little bit, but nothing quite matches the ferocity of five tracks for the rest of the album.
This is a welcome change of pace. While the first half of the album is good in its own right, it suffers from the fact that each song utilizes the same recording and performing techniques. It feels like between the songs they didn’t change any pedals or effects, as if they were recorded straight into each other. While that is a cool possibility, you can find yourself missing this half of the album unless you’re practicing active listening. The aforementioned “Reprise Pt. 1” marks the point where you begin to remember the names of the songs. “Impala Abdul,” for example, is the obvious high point of the record. Fantastic guitar melodies, a tight beat kept by the rhythm section and a wonderfully enigmatic flute make it a truly unique track that bridges the gap between noise pop and surf rock.
The album takes a few more sharp turns. “Rusty and Michelle” has what sounds like a picked guitar play for its entirety as male and female voices sing to and with each other, twisting round and round in a wonderful ballad. “All They Left Were His Feet” seems to be the token dark track. Reverbed guitar and a haunting violin melody create a song with a jarring disconnect from the rest of the relatively fun sounding album. It serves as the perfect buffer between the entirety of the album and its closer, “Sad Dad Sunday,” which seems to mix elements from both halves of the album into one quick track.
“THERE’S STILL TIME FOR US TO DIE” is a wonderful progression of sound for DEERPEOPLE. Although they’ve been jumping from style to style with each release, they seem to be finding their own niche and creating a sort of DEERPEOPLE-style. That’s the mark of a unique band. Their first full-length certainly didn’t let anyone down with all its uniqueness. It may be relatively different from prior releases, but it’s a work of art all on its own and I hope to see many more departures of style from DEERPEOPLE in the future.