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April 26, 2005

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I remember the first time I heard the At the Drive-In masterpiece Relationship of Command. My New Found Glory-tuned ears were mesmerized that a band could still be in the punk spectrum and sound so creative and weird. That record opened me up to the world of post-punk, and I soon began to discover other outstanding bands in the genre like the legendry Fugazi and Frodus. Jade Tree Records act Despistado can certainly be labeled a post-punk act, and their sound does remind the listener a lot of early At the Drive-in and Fugazi. With Fugazi on a long hiatus, and all the other aforementioned bands broken up, Despistado is a band that showed a lot of promise to carry quality post-punk through the 2000’s. Sadly, the young foursome from Saskatchewan, Canada, decided to call it quits prior to releasing The People and Their Verses, their debut album.

The People and Their Verses is a collection of passionate songs featuring frenzied guitars, running bass lines, riding cymbals, and gang vocal choruses; in short what you would expect from a post-punk band. Vocalist Dagon Harding even manages to sound a bit like Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse. Despistado’s influences are clear, but their sound never appears derivative or dated. The band plays these songs with conviction, and there are many outstanding moments on the album that will stick with the listener. Opener “Burning Honor” starts the album off right with some frantic guitar work and punk-rock vocals. Despistado slows the tempo down a bit for the catchiest song on the album, “Magnetic Streetlights,” which features dual vocals, a memorable chorus and a great bass line. The song is a nice change of pace to the upbeat songs that dominate the album. The drawbacks to The People and Their Verses are forgivable for a young band: As with a lot of the records in this genre, some of the songs tend to be virtually indistinguishable from others, and the standout songs on the album are obvious.

Despistado have released an album that will probably never garner the attention it deserves, with the band being broken up. Also, Jade Tree has opted to release the album through digital means only, an understandable business move, but unfortunate in terms of artistic value. The People and Their Verses is certainly not a perfect album, but it is obvious that the band was on their way to fulfilling their obvious potential to release a truly great album.


Luke Kruse