They may sport skinny jeans in press shots, but if their debut album is anything to go by, Peace are bringing back baggy.
There’s enough funky drumming, pounding keyboards and surreal lyrics about love to thrill anyone whose top musical moment from last year was seeing the Stone Roses reunite.
But it’s not just the dance-influenced anthems of the Happy Mondays and Stone Roses who Peace look to for inspiration. There are also inevitable echoes of Britpop and, in particular, the anthemic choruses and universality of that movement’s two leading lights – Blur and Oasis.
Following on from last year’s acclaimed EP ‘Delicious‘, ‘In Love‘ is a concise, direct journey that favours quality over quantity. At 10 tracks, everything here is essential and at no point does the album overstay its welcome.
Working with former Arctic Monkeys producer Jim Abiss, as they did on the aforementioned EP, ‘In Love’ is a bright, vibrant and often dreamy record. And even though the Worcester quartet may proudly invoke their influences, Abiss has ensured ‘In Love’ is a record for 2013, just as the Arctic Monkeys’ debut was a record for 2006.
Opening track ‘Higher Than The Sun‘ may borrow its title from Primal Scream, but musically it’s the polar opposite. A barnstorming frenzy of fuzzy bass, squealing guitar and thunderous drums, the track is a bold and energetic statement of intent.
‘Follow Baby‘ begins as an homage to My Bloody Valentine‘s ‘Only Shallow‘, before revealing itself as another unashamed Madchester tune when the guitar squalls are pared back. ‘Float Forever‘ and ‘Sugarstone‘ each channel Oasis – and by extension The Beatles – in their own way. ‘Float Forever’s gentle guitar arpeggios seem to do just that, while ‘Sugarstone’ is a nice slice of floaty psych. Earlier, the extra baggy ‘Waste Of Paint‘ is a nod to Blur’s own baggy-aping hit ‘There’s No Other Way‘.
Of course, there are exceptions to the Baggy and Britpop rule. For one, ‘Wraith‘ is mostly more Foals than Flowered Up, though the pounding pianos in the bridge might have you thinking otherwise. ‘Lovesick‘ takes Peace a few years back from The Stone Roses by appropriating the indie-pop sound of The Cure.
If there is a theme running through ‘In Love’, it’s romance, in all forms. “I wanna get lovesick with you,” Harrison Koisser sings earnestly on ‘Lovesick’. On the infectious chorus of ‘Toxic‘, Koisser declares, “All I gotta do I forget you,” as a spidery guitar line mimics the vocal melody, before later crooning, “I wanna blow away and sleep until we’re dead, stop trying to fill the heart-shaped hole in side your head.”
Album closer and high point ‘California Daze‘ sticks to the theme – it’s a dreamy ballad about a girl who “tastes like sunlight”. The most Beatles-esque sounding song on the album, it combines lush harmonies, Ringo inspired drum fills and a chorus that reaches for the stars. It builds slowly before reaching a cathartic and explosive guitar solo, much like Oasis’ ‘Champagne Supernova‘.
Like many debuts, ‘In Love’ is as much an amalgamation of Peace’s record collection as it is an original, forward-thinking statement, and in less assured hands it could well have been a disaster. But it’s not. Why? Quite simply, because pound for pound these are ten of the best songs you will hear this year, baggy or otherwise.
If you’ve already dismissed Peace as just another ‘hype’ band, think again – this is an album you’ll play again and again.