It's hard to complain when a debut so thoroughly grasps its essential strengths. Dumb Supper, the first proper platter from Columbia's People Person, sends punchy melodies slicing through grungy distortion. The tones draw from obvious slacker touchstones — Sebadoh, Pavement — but they're pricked by girl-group sweetness; think Superchunk if their spark came from '60s pop rather than '80s punk. People Person don't equal those icons — or come close — but they understand what made them great, leveraging their power to intensify the bubbly angst of singer and leader Jessica Oliver.
"Fallout" sprints through garbled riffs, like "Come As You Are" played after an amphetamine binge. It's a flippant break-up song that flashes between apathy and depression: "Lately it's hard to get off/ On self-serving infidelity and Nabokov," Oliver offers, her charming coo barbed by sarcasm. She builds to a bitter conclusion: "And we'll keep falling in love with ourselves/ Staring into each other's eyes."
The slow songs are equally effective. "Astoria" plods with fuzzy strums as background vocals echo through elegant reverb. Oliver admits that she's too cowardly to end a relationship that's obviously broken, begging her lover to do the dumping for her. "Call me an asshole," she moans, "well, I guess that I agree." Typically aloof, passion creeps into her voice, an arresting moment made possible by the album's fully formed aesthetic.
Oliver's themes are a bit repetitive, and her band's tricks won't surprise on subsequent spins. But at 21 minutes, Dumb Supper is quick enough to outrun its inadequacies — a tasty appetizer that will leave you hungry for more.