Offering their self-titled debut EP for free via bandcamp.com and as a giveaway at shows, Durham trio Actual Persons Living Or Dead follow the paradigm of start-up acts of the early '10s—make the music, put it in the world and see how people respond.
Actual Persons sound more like indie rock of another time. From the mix of local bands (Work Clothes, Wembley) and art rock luminaries (Velvet Underground, Galaxie 500, Joy Division) APLOD names as influences, one gets a fairly accurate suggestion of this band's interests. It's congenial, unpretentious and neighborly music, built on a foundation of thoughtful repetition and breezy atmosphere.
And indeed, this teaser offers glimpses of real promise in its shambling Sunday-afternoon indie rock. Joyce Ventimiglia, the band's leader, delivers lines with the same deadpan tone as Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon as Pavement-like guitar melodies wind around her vocals. Kerry Cantwell plies simple, steady drumbeats, countered by plinking auxiliary percussion. Dave Cantwell keeps his bass lines near the instrument's middle register, prioritizing countermelodies over rhythmic plod.
It's fair to suggest that Actual Persons' best work is still ahead of them—these parts seem to be still congealing. They're pulling together good parts, at least, especially in the interplay between guitar and bass. "...Or It's Like a Bunny" kicks up the tempo as it concludes, and finale "No Es Lindo" finds the band creating a thin fog of pensive guitar tones and ringing cymbals before letting the song build into an ascendant post-rock resolution. But the whole remains, mostly comfortably, in the mid-tempo, mid-volume middle ground, only hinting at greater dynamic range.
The EP is clearly a moment captured, a developmental stage in the creation of a band that is, presumably, granting us permission to watch its growth.