My initial encounter with December Peals was marked by generally poor first impressions and unfortunately not much changes with their full-length People Have Demons.
With what might optimistically be labeled as energetic rock ’n’ roll, but more realistically some ebullient take on cock rock, December Peals jerk through thirteen songs in 45 minutes. While the musicianship is competent and the songs fairly lively for the most part, the band has a hard time crafting any hooks, instead relying on standard rock guitar leads like on the opener “Bad Company” and its follower “The Devil You Know.” The band goes unplugged for “Capitol Cowboys,” which pursues a slightly different styles, but doesn’t really hit a stride until about three-quarters of the way through.
However, it’s clear December Peals has improved markedly over their 2008 split with Boozed. There are occasional traces of the Bronx, and the band grinds out some thick, more punk-styled jams like “Saints and Sinners” and “Hypoxia.” They even get catchy on the punchy “Best of Luck,” which grieves “Here’s to you/Stop talking please/My blood runs cold/It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.”
Still, sticking to conventions is what drags down December Peals on People Have Demons, but unfortunately that kind of seems to be their schtick. They’re able to snag a few moments of mild success here, but stay stuck in the ruts of the rock appeal they’re trying to achieve.