Photo by Madeline Toro
Detroit-based three-piece AM People released their debut LP Songs for the Mourning on June 15th, and it’s the perfect soundtrack to accompany the woozy heat daze of summer. The record is a seamless collection of apathetic punk songs, running into each other like strangers at a crowded bar and eventually landing on an unmade bed, room spinning.
The band — Kyle Akey (drums), Niobe Marasigan (bass), and Ryan Gumbleton (guitar) — describe themselves as “punk goths who go to the beach,” and Songs clearly reflects that. Marasigan and Akey’s vocals are delivered sans any trace of emotion, seemingly detached from the words they carry. However, genius lies in simplicity when it comes to the songs’ lyricism. Instead of clouding their music with hidden metaphors or pretentious vocabulary, AM People just say what they really mean. What a concept.
The subject matter ranges from unrequited love to budding friendships. The band injects “Friend Request” with playful, melodic guitar as Gumbleton and Akey exchange vocals like a musical game of catch. As simple a concept as making a new friend is, it seems novel in a world full of heads-down-screen-stares and constant paranoia. “Friend Request” makes human interaction cool again and recalls the warm fuzzy feelings that come with making a new friend. “I have been learning more about you,” sings Gumbleton. “What I have learned so far is pretty cool.”
“Back and Forth” epitomizes the many stages of unrequited love – infatuation, rejection, spite, acceptance. It also suggests that maybe, sometimes, what we mistake for love is just another attempt at filling the void. The lyrics, “I was searching for a meaning / I was holding on to a feeling,” suggest that love can be used as a distraction or temporary band-aid for whatever is lacking in our lives. Then, when it doesn’t work out, it’s back to the numb merry-go-round of self-discovery that often plagues the mind. The band mirrors this cycle musically, with a recurring guitar riff and hypnotizing vocal melody.
By intertwining monotone, self-aware statements with sunshine-y guitar riffs and ironically cliche couplets, AM People accomplish the approachably cool sound of their matter-of-fact indie brethren like Parquet Courts or fellow Detroit troupe, Deadbeat Beat. And like any good record, Songs for the Mourning lulls the listener into a trance, pulling us farther away from reality and making our daydreams as clear as water.