Music Reviews
Person to Person

Foreign Born Person to Person

(Secretly Canadian) Buy it from Insound Rating - 9/10

It's not a wonder to me that Grizzly Bear's Ed Droste is a huge Foreign Born fan, having them open for a few of their shows early this year. It is a wonder to me, however, that Grizzly Bear is enjoying the success that they currently are while a band like Foreign Born remains much more obscure. Despite (or perhaps because of) their 2007 appearance on NBC's Chuck, Foreign Born has not achieved the indie stardom they truly deserve. The more attention I pay to the music industry, the more perplexing it becomes. Person to Person, their sophomore album, is an absolute gem from start to finish, and is far more promising than their somewhat forgettable debut On the Wing Now.

On the addictive album opener, Blood Oranges, Matt Popieluch's voice melts and fuses with the guitar before the deep, harmonious backup vocals join in, allowing the song to drift toward a powerful end. His voice is both throaty and flighty, invoking somehow both Hamilton Leithauser and Jeff Tweedy. Vacationing People is barbed with sweet guitar twangs and blossoming horns, reminding me of some of Beulah’s most successful songs. Winter Games gives us an alt-country number as trouncing, playful, and breathtaking as anything on Wilco's most recent release. After their first album, Foreign Born were frequently compared to U2 and Arcade Fire, but Wilco is a much more apt comparison. Their sound is very familiar but definitely not overly derivative.

Every song on Person to Person is both intricate and pounding, driven but dissectible. Each part of the whole is deliciously distinct, as far as the incredibly varied instrumentation goes. The lyrics, however, are very difficult to make out. I will admit that I'm guilty of never really listening to lyrics. If I happen to learn the words to something, it’s because I’ve heard it so many times. As a fiction writer, perhaps I should care more about lyrics, but lyrics will never win me over if I hate a song, and bad lyrics will never stop me from completely loving a good song. And since these are all great songs, it’s not bothering me too much that Googling their lyrics has so far yielded nothing. The African highlife inspired Early Warnings shifts from a prettily picked ditty to a darker ode to fading memories. This album has frequently been called front-loaded, and that's true, but the slower songs that close the album are by no means dismissible. The sleigh bells and harmonica combo of It Grew On You is downright haunting. My biggest complaint is the seemingly abrupt ending of album closer Wait In This Chair, the only song under three minutes, though perhaps I was simply upset that there was no more. It makes the entire album feel as though it’s coming to an underdeveloped halt. But really, I can’t say enough good things about this album. The press release called it the perfect summer BBQ album, but it's really much more than that. It will hopefully be a sleeper hit, ending up on some high profile lists at the end of the year as something that was initially buried under all of Grizzly Bear’s (not undeserved) hype.

I almost didn’t even review this album. Its release date is a bit since past and upcoming releases from Yacht and Julian Plenti are calling my name, but I’m glad I didn’t let this slip away. The best and worst part about music is that it becomes a soundtrack to your life. What an emo thing to say. I can almost feel the black tear dripping down my face. But it’s true. Emotional ties to music are ridiculous, sometimes even a barrier. You can never really get into a band if you find out the recommendation comes from someone you hate. It becomes harder to listen to an album you’d loved if it becomes associated with heartache. At least, for a while. But, there’s always another album, another band. A new soundtrack for a new chapter. That’s what Person to Person is for me. It’s dark and joyous at the same time, fun and epic sounding enough to seem meaningful, despite my inability to make out most of the lyrics. I’m getting ready to move for graduate school, leaving behind friends and the semblance of an adult life I’ve built for myself. For a bit, I have to move in with my parents. It’s at once a regression and a new start. And while driving down I4 from St. Augustine to Orlando, I’ll be blasting Person to Person remembering that there’s always something new to discover that can make me pretty happy.

Comments for Person to Person review

Well I don't know but they

Well I don't know but they sound a lot like the walkmen but boring.

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foreign born

bny the 2nd time i heard this album, I was hooked & havent taken the CD out my car all summer. Throw away the indie-snobbery mindset and accept it for what it is. Remember when everyone was open about being into TomPetty, FleetwoodMac or Big Star? Well that's what this album brings me back to- genuinely great music made by good people.

Thank you

I'm glad there's more than just the "boring Walkmen" comment on here now, though of course I welcome differing opinions.

This is likely my favorite album of the summer as well, and I'm so glad to hear you say that.

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Foreign Born is not at all like Vampire Weekend

So many people make this comparison - that Foreign Born's latest effort is aligning themselves the way Vampire Weekend has. It's total bullshit. It's a shame that people can only relate this to African melodies and rhythms. The material is much more complex. Does it sound similar? Yes. It does. But it is in no way as formulaic (not that it's a bad formula) as Vampire Weekend. People forget that most music will be reminiscent of something else and therefor like to group things and cite precedent. Person to Person can not be grouped this way. The record is much more diverse. Kudos to them for breaking out of their homogenized sound from their first album and building an entirely new image. It's unfortunate that this will probably end up highly underrated and overlooked.

Good review and appropriate rating, Jaclyn.

Just found out about these guys

For me, I can listen to many songs from a group only slightly appreciating them until a 5 second part of a single song clicks in my head and turns me on to the entire album. With foreign born, it was It Grew on You. And yeah, I'm kinda sad I can't find lyrics for these guys. When it sounds good AND somehow connects with you on a lyrical level, you are truly cemented as a fan. I didn't find out about these guys until after the summer, and I wish I did.

For me, I can listen to many

For me, I can listen to many songs from a group only slightly appreciating them until a 5 second part of a single song clicks in my head and turns me on to the entire album. With foreign born, it was It Grew on You. And yeah, I'm kinda sad I can't find lyrics for these guys. When it sounds good AND somehow connects with you on a lyrical level, you are truly cemented as a fan. I didn't find out about these guys until after the summer, and I wish I did.

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