The People’s Temple – Sons of Stone album review

The People’s Temple makes a decisive effort to evoke the hazy sensibilities of ‘60s psychedelia on Sons of Stone (released April 19 on Hozac Records), and while they do manage to reawaken a fairly authentic shade of that era and splice it with some lo-fi garage and washy surf rock textures, the retrofitted creation fails to take a solidified shape and comes off as lost and confused somewhere between the past and present.

The main issue with Sons of Stone, the band’s debut LP, is its general lack of soul. The deeper you dive into the album, the stronger the feeling becomes that its mainly a repetition exercise, following a basic formula with a slight amount of variation in each track, but no real discernable passion in doing so. Nothing is unearthed beneath this formula to give it a redeemable essence that’ll really move you on the inside.

What you’ve got here is a series of simple guitar riffs, touched with reverb or distortion in a few instances but never really traveling too far off course, as the main backbone of the sound. Vocals that primarily alternate between barely audible and flat-out stale are layered on top, at times seeking to recreate the dreaminess of 60s stalwarts like Jefferson Airplane and 13th Floor Elevators (“Sons of Stone”), and others stepping into more garage-based territory with tinges of punk angst (“Axe Man” and “Pretender). The jumbled mixture might reach a pleasant plateau or turn a corner that catches you here and there, yet most of them seem to peter out before you can find a comfortable place to fall back and relax into.

“Sons of Stone (Revisited),” an instrumental interlude with tribal undertones and gradually ascending core, and “Where You Gonna Go,” a bouncing romp reminiscent of The Rolling Stones, show the most promise of these otherwise-generic selections. Unfortunately, they can’t carry the rest of these bland tracks to any worthwhile level and leave Sons of Stone stumbling in the dust.

The past can lend great gifts to the present, but only if they’re tended to carefully and combined with something more that gives them a new identity. For The People’s Temple, this might mean they need to reevaluate their entire retrospective approach.

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