Other People are lighter overall than the Angels Of Light’s previous masterpieces New Mother, How I Loved You and Please Come Home. The sound is mostly folk with some hints of country in songs like On The Mountain. The tracks are shorter and there is even some playful variation in My Friend Thor and Simon Is Stronger Than Us.
The opening number, Lena’s Song is a tuneful slice of folk with lovely imagery. At over 5 minutes each, On The Mountain and Destroyer are exceptions to the rule. The second is perhaps the closest to Gira’s gloomy explorations, reminiscent of certain songs on Love Of Life and Great Annihilator. The Sound Of Freedom, God Loves America and Blood Promise come to mind.
Perhaps a sequel to Celebrity Lifestyle on Annihilator, Michael’s White Hands has an edgy beat, dissonant texture and shouted vocals, and is the most intense excursion on the album. The next one, To Live Through Someone, is a slow and fragile ballad with moving lyrics, whilst the brief Simon Is Stronger Than Us is almost like a chant, powerful and evocative.
Imagine a blend of Leonard Cohen and Lou Reed’s story songs about friends and acquaintances and you will have an idea of the feel of Other People. The album compares well with AoL’s earlier work, but I miss the magnificent swirling build-ups of masterpieces like Public Embarrassment Blues, Angels Of Light or Two Women.
Although obscure by comparison, Michael Gira is in the same league as artists like Richard Thompson, Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Cohen and Reed. He also has the deepest, most sombre voice of them all! Fans of the aforementioned ought to investigate his work in Angels Of Light and on the later Swans albums.