By Mike Romero
Despite their name, the music of Festive People isn’t party music. If anything, it sounds more like the music that should play over a montage of footage from a party. That’s not to say that most of the songs from their newest EP, Parade, won’t get you moving. It will definitely get your feet tapping and head bobbing.
I’m a huge Seinfeld fan, so when this EP opened with an altered sound clip of Elaine saying, “No one knows how long this parade is going to last! They are a very festive people!” I was already on board. Not only are Festive People Seinfeld people – so I know they are good people – but they picked a sound clip that made mention of both the EP title and their band name. Very clever. It also doesn’t hurt that the opening track, “These Are The Words,” was born to be an opener. The dance beat is enough to make it fun, and John Lane’s vocals are enough to make it good. What makes it interesting musically, however, are the guitar riffs and the synth part. Lyrically, this song might be a little bit cheesy, and obviously straightforward, but it gets the job done, and the melody is so good you don’t even care. It’s elements like this that helped the EP debut at #21 on the iTunes pop charts.
I do a lot of my listening to music in my car. I am often found singing loudly and dancing to music in the car by myself – often with the windows down. There is just something beautiful about listening to music while doing something like driving that allows you to feel physically how the music feels emotionally. For this reason, I am constantly in search of great driving songs. The latest on my list is “Free.” This chorus is just simply fantastic. The big floor toms that start in the first chorus and continue throughout give this song more drive than I even know what to do with. The drums, and various percussion – i.e. synth claps – throughout this song are absolutely spectacular. The big rhythm section coupled with the anthemic vocals in the chorus, including great choir-like back up vocals that seem to get bigger as the song progresses, make this a perfect song to sing at unsuspecting strangers that have the misfortune of driving in the lane next to me.
Festive People aren’t all big drums and fun music. “We All Fall Down” is a great example of Festive People getting a little more emotional and serious. Less of a dance beat, and more of a groove, this song sounds a bit like a folky version of a 90’s rock ballad. More than anything I can say about this song, this track absolutely proves that John Lane is an incredible vocalist by any standard. He is able to nail the soft, nuanced lines, as well as absolutely slay the big chorus. It’s a powerful song that shows another side of the band, and is a great way to end the 5 track EP.
By way of criticism, “Give It Up” rhymes “life” with “strife.” While that doesn’t ruin the song, as it is fantastic in its own right, I am obligated to make mention of it because it is one of my editor’s pet peeves. And John Lane knows it.
Other than that, there’s not much else to be critical of. Just a hope for the future: I would love to see Festive People do a little bit more. There is not a whole lot of difference between Festive People’s first EP and this one, except that this one is executed a little better. It’s more polished, the textures mesh better, it’s fuller and more perfectly conceptualized. But I would like to see them push themselves a little bit more artistically. I wouldn’t be saying this if I didn’t think that they were good enough to get a little experimental. They just got done recording a fantastic pop/folk/rock EP. I hope they bring something new to the formula the next time around. I really hope that they don’t become complacent, because they are really good at what they are currently doing.
This EP is remarkably well done. Not only would I recommend it to everyone, but I think you would be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t think it was good. I have loved what they have already done, and I am very excited to see what Festive People will bring to Provo – and the world – in the future.
The EP is available on iTunes and Spotify. Festive People will be performing Friday, October 7th at Velour Live Music Gallery alongside Truman Brothers and Amber Lynn. Make sure to like Festive People on Facebook for updates and listen to “These Are the Words” from Parade below.