So, that’s it? Man, we hardly had the opportunity to warm up to Despistado, let alone allow them to become one of our new favorite bands. And all of a sudden, they break up? Before their first full-length even sees release? Must have been something big to tear a band apart, right on the cusp of their big breakthrough (or so we would assume). Imagine what would happen if R.E.M. had broken up between Chronic Town and Murmur, or if The Pixies had called it quits between Come on Pilgrim and Surfer Rosa. Would have been a bloody shame if both of those scenarios had played out. And though Despistado hadn’t quite etched themselves into our musical vocabulary as of yet, they were readying their hammer and chisel, and by golly, they had every right to earn our attention and win us over. Well, they did; those of us who heard them, anyway. And now it’s over. But at least we have The People Of And Their Verses as a memento.
On the heels of their Emergency Response EP comes People, a twelve-song “hello” and “goodbye” from the band. And knowing that this is the last we’ll ever hear from the band is even more frustrating after listening. Because dammit, it’s good.
The Saskatchewan four piece attacks with a punk rock ferocity and an old school simplicity that, when combined, sounds remarkably fresh and exciting. There’s no disco- noise- or pop- in front of Despistado’s punk. But there’s no adherence to any sort of conventions or rules. Their music is free of the bells and whistles of the disco-punk du jour, though doesn’t revert to strictly traditional punk rock structures. They’re jagged, abrasive and spastic. In a word: intense.
In “Burning House” and “Plants,” guitarists Dagand Hardin and Leif Thorseth seem to be strumming so fast, their wrists sound as if they’re about to snap at any moment. “The Memory of This History,” however, is a rock solid stomp with a more straightforward but no less fierce attack. And then, they play a song like “This Neighbourhood,” taking on the song with more emphasis on melody than ferocity. But it rocks anyway. I’m not sure that Despistado knew how not to rock.
It’s a shame to know that this is Despistado’s final hurrah. There’s so much energy and uniqueness on this album, it’s easy to see the band heading in an interesting and innovative direction. Oh, well. I guess we’ll have to move on. But listening to an album as powerful as The People Of And Their Verses, you can’t help but wonder what could have been.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.