Person L - The Positives (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Person L

The Positives (2009)

Academy Fight Song

Kenny Vasoli has come a long way since Person L's more acoustic-based origins in VFW halls. Shit, he's come a long way since the days of "I'm gonna tear your ass up like we just got married." On The Positives, Vasoli has gone from pop-punk to indie rock, and the switch is a startlingly comfortable fit for him. Sure, he still knows his way around a hook, and perhaps some of the ideas on the Starting Line's Based on a True Story may have hinted at this record, but ultimately, here's a credible indie record from a Drive-Thru alumnus who isn't Ace Enders.

The guitar tone Vasoli and Nathaniel Vaeth get on opening track "Hole in the Fence" alone is stunning. They slowly build it up into this behemoth of a song, going from plaintive acoustic strains to something explosive and ethereal, like Mogwai with a greater emphasis on vox. Drummer Ryan Zmaaro is there for the full ride. "Hole in the Fence" is the thesis statement for the album. It's folky and post-rock and quiet and loud. Everything afterwards expands on this song's ideas, whether it's the rolling indie of the title track, the mellow lull of "Stay Calm," or the balls-to-the-wall rock of "Goodness Gracious," a song I would compare to MC5 if that tag didn't come with too much baggage and hype.

In a way, The Positives feels like a tour through Vasoli's record collection, as it comprises just about everything he probably couldn't pull off under the Starting Line moniker. To that extent, it's almost like TSL is the side project, a pop-punk/pop-rock endeavor to help put money in the bank while Person L allows Vasoli unchecked creativity.

That being said, the record has a few flaws. Vasoli probably could have shaved off 10-15 minutes from the record's 51-minute running time. The first half of The Positives is revelatory; the back half is more of the same but longer. Lyrically, there's nothing particularly good or bad. They fill space, and I don't think anyone is going to take Vasoli too seriously, even when he gets all up in your face with lines like "I've been hearing rumors about a revolution / Have you got the crowd to back it up?" Still, this album is an exciting release, and a marked improvement over the sterile pop-rock of TSL's possible swan song, Direction.