Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past six months (a particularly deep cave, underwater, on Neptune, with a wi-fi connection that even Virgin trains would condemn as “poor”) then chances are you will have heard at least something about Birmingham based quartet Peace. The hype that’s followed this band is bordering on legendary; not since Suede in the early 90s has a band received such critical acclaim before even releasing an album, and as such, the expectation laden on their first full-length release is frankly colossal.
Peace have generated this media love-in on the back of some raucous live shows; a glimpse of their studio sound on last September’s EP ‘Delicious’; and singer Harry Koisser’s haircut. In order to truly evaluate whether the band were worthy of their lofty status as the next “next big thing”, we were forced to hang around for six months brooding, whilst they put the finishing touches on In Love, their hotly anticipated debut album. And boy, was it worth the wait.
For all the cynical scepticism that is often felt towards bands that generate a certain level of media attention before they’ve actually put anything on record, Peace manage to confidently prove their worth as something more than the darlings of a select coven of cardigan-wearing hipster critic types, as well as sweeping away any doubt in the minds of the casual listener. In the mire of the swirling guitar that begins In Love’s first track ‘Higher Than The Sun’, Peace subtly allow the tension to grow and gestate before launching headfirst into one of the many anthemic choruses that blaze through the album like a forest-fire. The whole LP is alive with the kind of energetic sing-a-longs that one would expect from a greatest hits collection rather than a first album.
One point needs stressing above all other here. There is nothing new going on with Peace. At all. The album’s sound is predominantly ‘90s’; ‘90s’ as hammer-pants, Seinfeld and toddlers with bowl-cuts. The influences range from the blatantly obvious, (‘Waste of Paint’ features the exact same riff as ‘There’s No Other Way’ by Blur) to the quite obvious (shades of Vampire Weekend permeate single ‘Wraith’) to the just plain daft (Koisser’s penchant for leopard-print coats channels the spirit of Richey Edwards near-perfectly). Despite all this, Peace’s and In Love’s ingenuity lies not in where they’ve nicked the odd riff or guitar sound from, but in how well they’ve mixed this grungy-shoegazy-BritPoppy broth into something worthwhile. Whilst many acts have tried rehashing this particular blend, none have been able to do so with the sheer degree of songwriting competency that Peace exhibit in frankly arrogant quantities.
This confidence and swagger is what lends Peace’s debut its overall quality. Tracks like ‘Follow Baby’ and ‘Toxic’ blaze open with heavy glam-rock riffs that sound like they should’ve been written ages ago for a forgotten T-Rex album, whilst the melancholy ‘Float Forever’ wouldn’t sound out of place (for better or for worse) on a Coldplay album. It’s this capacity to create great songs that can stand side-by-side with those of far more established acts that makes Peace so instantly endearing.
The jewel in Peace’s already impressive crown is an awesomely bold, 2 minute 12 second diamond: ‘Lovesick’ provides an exhilarating head rush that catapults the listener into Instagram-filtered memories of hot summers and past romances. Building on a humming bass part before plunging into a crashy pool of glittering guitars and raucous cymbals, Peace pull out all the stops to craft their centrepiece. Unabashedly joyous, Koisser’s honey drenched wail tells the perfect loser’s love-song in a way that would make even bands who are generally quite good at that sort of thing (Pavement et al) green with envy. This is the kind of song which you can tell is going to tear up festivals throughout the country; its chorus ingrains itself on the minds and tongues of those in every crowd.
Alright, before there’s any more waxing lyrical, there are a few things that keep In Love from being completely perfect. ‘Drain’, despite its inventiveness, drags on too long, and could possibly have been split into two separate tracks, whilst ‘Sugarstone’ seems a bit underwhelming, and, on a debut album already 14 tracks long, its inclusion is somewhat baffling. However, this really is some nit-picking of an anally fussy nature, as to berate Peace over anything on an album of this excellence seems, well, a bit daft.
Only time will tell whether Peace will become the phenomenon that an adoring media has predicted them to be, but with a dazzling debut album and a UK tour that’s selling out rapidly, this Brummie lot really are going about it the right way.
Release Date 25/03/2013 (Columbia)