With comeback releases from My Bloody Valentine and Suede, it seems guitar music is currently undergoing something of a 90s flashback, and latest critical darlings, Peace, are no exception to this. Nor are they exceptional, in any way.
The times are right for Peace. A new band comes along with a rough guitar sound, having gigged their way out of obscurity, and everyone is supposed to down tools and herald the arrival of the latest, greatest band that marks a return to real music, with edge, and teeth, not part of a scene, independent of mind and vision. Unfortunately, Peace are not it.
Their much-hyped debut album is easy to like, if you were born in the 80s and raised on Oasis and other Madchester derivatives. From the off, the album is full of laconic vocals, hoppy (“baggy”) drums and incidental guitars that sometimes edge into gritty, distorted feedback but generally remain in the safe and well-trodden territory of 4/4 timing and choppy riffs.
It gets worse. Cliched song titles, especially names such as Higher Than The Sun, take me straight back to the early days of Primal Scream and ecstasy, both the sensation of hearing the music and the attendant scene that brought about such Blakean, beatified sensations. With Peace, I feel nothing. My interest wanes as the verse/chorus/middle 8/chorus-system cycles by and I feel the dark shadow of a record company stooge all over this album, trying to control the shape of new guitar music with old ideas and steering the band into a carefully crafted marketing niche (late-twenties/early-thirties grunge fans and Britpop-deniers).
For example, big lead-off single, Follow Baby, starts off with a promising wall-of-guitars verse that reminds of MBV and then The Horrors' second album, before lapsing into lazy beats. No one is happier than me to hear snarling guitars back on the radio, but does it all have to be so derivative?
Perhaps this is the time and place for a fun indie band that are a little bit loud and very easy to like, especially if your thirteen and angry with your parents. But compared to bands like Bloc Party, Foals and Maccabees who between them, have taken guitar music to strange new places with expansive song structures, intelligent lyrics and a desire to evolve with each record.
To adopt the lingua franca of the band’s favourite reference point, I have significant reservations if they are 4REAL. I’d be happy to be proven wrong. Earlier, I mentioned The Horrors, I love them now, but I hated their early stuff, particularly their scenesterish debut that saw them get foolishly dropped by their then-record label only to go on and make two of the most sonically outlandish albums of recent times. There’s no reason why Peace and other bland men-of-the-moment (Palma Violets/Jake Bugg) couldn’t pull something out of the bag and become game-changers, though I severely doubt it.
In an ocean of noise, I expect Peace’s In Love, will be little more than a drop. It’ll sell plenty, then be forgotten…prove me wrong boys, prove me wrong.
In Love is out now, and you can get it from here