Review by Jordan Mooney.
It’s fairly likely that very few of you will have heard of the band subject to my writing today. But you may well know them by their previous name.
The People The Poet, originally known as Tiger Please, are one of those bands who humble themselves on the considerable talent they have at their fingertips, whether it be the consistently passionate vocals of Leon Stanford, the thoroughly tight guitar work of Luc Morris and Tyla Campbell, or the background thundering of Jimmi Kendall on Bass and Lewis Rowsall on drums, instrumentally there is not a weak link in the band’s line up – and they’ve received plenty of acclaim as a line-up in response, having been played on BBC Radio One (something far rarer than it should be for alternative bands, but I digress..), appearing under their previous moniker in such eminent publications (Jealous? Us?) as Kerrang, Big Cheese, Rock Sound, Classic Rock Magazine – the list goes on.
Tiger Please have also been seen at Sonisphere, Download Festival, and have wandered around the country with no lack of enthusiasm – ultimately, the band is not exactly a small name, and while never quite reaching the size of their influences, which stay roughly along the lines of Kings of Leon, U2, and Counting Crows, they’ve proven a constant presence in the independent scene.
So with all of this popularity under the name of Tiger Please, why exactly have these very talented chappies chosen to change their title? What inspires such a change?
The simple answer, albeit requiring explanation, is that this is no longer a five piece band. As a matter of fact, it is no longer a band in the traditional sense – The People The Poet have instead come together as a concept far beyond that of a simple music group.
In a very unusual – and at the risk of proving my ignorance, I believe, unique turn, the band have instead turned to those whom have been following the band since day one, through name changes and tours, to provide stories, and, thus, songs.
It’s an incredible concept, touching, heartwarming, and really an incredibly difficult and emotional thing to do – but done it they have, and the album, titled ‘The Narrator‘, has reached us newly completed, still steaming slightly from the lovely hot bath of production it’s received from several talented producers – Gil Norton (Foo Fighters/Jimmy Eat World/Counting Crows), Peter Miles (We Are The Ocean/The King Blues/Canterbury) and Todd Campbell (Straight Lines/ Motorhead) – in separate sessions, and promptly dropped the towel to share all – and it has a lot to tell us.
I can’t review this as an album, really, rather as an eminent whole of some incredibly sensitive, touching story telling under the name of the band – even expanding far beyond – into life stories that any member of the public can relate to in some way or another. This is no generic story telling or fantasy, it’s the story of somebody you could well end up sitting next to on a late bus, bumping into in the street – it’s the stories that make up the very delicate tapestry of life.
In terms of sound, it’s all very passionate and very level. Nothing sounds muted, nothing sounds neglected – everything has reason to be there and work in a similar way. Guitar riffs are fairly simple, and we get lovely touches of violin here and there. The album, even in its sad, often very mournful tales, does not get bogged down. Stanford’s vocals range from melodic croons to deep, rippling shouts where appropriate. Nothing seems out of place – it’s all polished nicely. When something needs to move frontwards, it does so – but ultimately nothing dominates overtly, and nothing particularly jars. This has a problem in itself that it’s a very difficult sound to explain – it’s non-threatening, but it’s in no way generic. Where a song needs courage, the set up is moved around a touch to provide it – more emphasis on guitar riff and bass. When it needs to be sad and mournful, acoustic, perhaps a touch of violin – you get the idea.
The result is, again, a non-threatening, easy album to listen to, but one that’s extraordinarily hard to explain thoroughly. The concept, in a rare turn for an album, outshines anything unusual about the music – it speaks for itself and the music acts in a similar way to a soundtrack to a film, it simply changes when required – and is built, seemingly, with the express desire not to overshadow anything, or drown a person’s story in guitar riffs pushed to the front or drums drowning everything out of sight.
This is an immensely emotional album – it in no way tries to shove the stories into your faces begging for the concept to be given attention – it’s quite easy to slowly tune out to the inoffensive, but very beautiful, rock stylings one can expect from the talent on hand – but every word sinks in, and at the risk of losing my license to be a man, it gets you really quite vulnerable. You’ll be snapped into clarity by talk of losing hair and finding it harder to breathe, you’ll be trying hard to hold back the waterworks at the fact it’s being joined by tales of birth with a father/son relationship – and to knock you even closer to losing your stiff upper lip, as on the same compact disc we hear of losing a parent.
While these are all separate stories they have all been put together in such a way it almost feels like one, and perhaps, that’s what’s most beautiful about it.
The fact is, it isn’t a series of separate stories, we are all in it together with this album. We all experience it, hear it, feel it, and we all experience similar trials and tribulations in life, whether it be in our control or not. I think this brings us beyond the idea of sharing a story and instead pulls us into sharing the common knowledge that life just isn’t that easy, and the only thing that makes us feel better is talking and sharing.
This is no mere concept album, it is a strong portrayal of life, and I defy you to prevent emotions building while listening to this piece. It’s not all about loss, it’s not all about birth, it’s not all about negativity. It’s all about emotion.
This isn’t a recommendation, it’s an instruction. You need to hear this album, you need to listen to it in the dark when there’s not a single noise to distract you and you need to tell everybody what happened, because if not a single emotion ran through your head, you might well not be human. An exaggeration? Not quite as much as you might think.
We all experience at least one story from this album, and in no way does the album try to tout it as something extraordinary, pouring pretentious bull about these stories being completely exclusive. The album, the band, the people behind it – there seems to be a consistent understanding, a continuous emotional bond.
This band is no longer a band. They are now the eponymous narrators. The people, the general public, are the poets, the scriptwriters, those whom put words to the musician’s lips, and most importantly for us, we are now the audience to a very intimate show – finished to the finest detail.