Veenstra – “People & The Woods”

(Photo Credit: bandcamp)

Grade: B+

Key Tracks: “I’m Sorry, I’m Lost” “The Hollow Realm”

“People & The Woods” is the third album in a trilogy – you can find my review of the second album, “Six Months of Death,” here – and it largely feels like the ending to a progressing narrative. It does what any finale to a trilogy should do, it kicks it up a notch. The album, much like the two previous, is wickedly lo-fi. It was all written and recorded by Francois Veenstra, and it often has the tone of an ambitious solo project. The trilogy isn’t exactly a happy one, as this album deals with finding yourself suddenly alone. While maybe not as existential of a topic as before, it’s one that’s just as striking.

This album has more of a band feel to it, although it is still a solo act. There are full band instruments on more of the tracks than before. For a finale, Veenstra wanted to go for a more cohesive feel. The album has a great balance because of it, with shorter, more ambient pieces intersecting some more traditional tracks. And the heaviness of the album’s story gets transferred through the varying volumes. Each sound, be it guitars, vocals, bass, drums, all are elements of the story. They’re never working against each other, instead complementing each other and working to fill a story. He continues to show an ability to switch up an album before any certain idea gets too old, providing for a very satisfying listen. It’s interesting that the album has just as much of a dreamy feel, despite the added instruments. Even with the increase, the album feels more sparing, more distant than before, and it helps it to feel just as lonely as the character.

The only real criticism I can muster is a slight dissatisfaction with the final track, “Mirror Lake.” Veenstra’s longer songs have often been some of the bigger opuses of the albums, but the song is instrumental and softer. On a purely sonic level, I was a little disappointed in a more subdued track to end the trilogy. But even then, I understand it on a level dealing with the album’s dark themes. Having a lighter, more ambient finale is a little haunting when you take the tone into account. Otherwise, I think it’s another solid experimental, lo-fi album. It won’t appeal to everyone, but it’s very good for those that it will. It’s a great finale, full of existential dream-pop and lo-fi rock that’ll likely stick in your mind for a while.

The album is available here.

-By Andrew McNally

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