by Brittany Robinson
All We Are- Self-Titled
According to the band’s Facebook, All We Are identifies themselves as the genre of ‘psychedelic boogie.’ The words ‘psychedelic’ and ‘boogie’ together radiate the sounds of “Flashlight” by Parliament and The Ohio Players, and this band doesn’t really give out the same feeling that Bootsy Collins does. Their second description is more truthful, ‘The Bee Gees on diazepam.’ In the song “I Wear You,’ it’s palpable that Barry Gibbs’ high falsetto manifests itself into this group. Their music has this essence of a reduced speed “Staying Alive”, which ends up making a more psychedelic serene than a psychedelic boogie. Depending on the track though, it can either sound groovy, or generic and dull.
The opening track “EBB/ Flow,” sets this soft tone that is prevalent throughout the whole album. It’s the very definition of dream-pop. No matter how funky the songs may get, they never lose control of the smooth overtones. In this song especially, the Ying Yang spirit is vocally apparent. The female vocalist is calm, slow, and steady; while the male vocalist part of the track gives it life with this head bobbing/hip moving triggering melody. It makes this track appropriate to play on a windy 30 degree depressing Seattle-like day, or while running around on soccer field in the middle of May. Somehow, it’s a perfect balance of both moods. The following track “Stone” is the opposite. Very one dimensional, very simple, very boring. It’s a sweet song, but it just lacks originality in its sound.
“Something About You” is “Stone” done right. It’s equally sweet, but the harmonic variation makes it an overall more interesting listen. The reason is because the female vocalist is the main singer in both of these songs, and she has a beautiful tone to her voice. But beautiful isn’t synonymous with unique, meaning its really easy for her to sound like every other female singer in her genre. It’s when she takes a less obvious direction with the piecing of her parts of the songs; the music starts to sound original.
The album flows really well, even though its main issue is when it comes to the equivalent quality of songs. “Keep Me Alive” is one those songs you swear was recorded by a band 3 or 4 decades ago, and you ended up finding it on a vinyl record in your parent garage when you were spring cleaning. It’s full of this colorful and intoxicating sound that comes across so authentically that it couldn’t have been made in the last 5 years, but somehow was.
The same thing is with “Utmost Good”. It’s hard not to think of your hippie parents / grandparents tripping hard on the local hallucinogenic to this music while looking through a kaleidoscope- the music screams Psychedelic. Some songs are a miss though, “Honey” for example. It’s not a terrible song; it doesn’t suffer from the problem of originality in sound like “Stone”. The problem is that compared to the authenticity of the other songs, it just feels like a pack of artificial sweetener in a land full of sugar cane.
Overall, the album is a fun and easy listen. Easy can sometimes turn into boring, but more times than not it doesn’t. Some songs are super funky and others are psychedelic, but one always prevails in a track. Psychedelic boogie is a bit too upbeat for the music, but Psychedelic groove is just the right temperature- fun enough to sway to, but not fun enough to do the electric slide to. The album provides listeners with a lot of hits, and minimal misses. It’s not a flawless album, but it runs smoothly.