Review Summary: A promising pop debut, but not quite there yet.
Back in September, a Birmingham quartet by the name of Peace released a four track EP, Delicious. It boasted wonderfully claustrophobic guitar riffs, arresting drum-work and some damned catchy songs. What was most interesting, however, was it’s closing track - a ten-minute cover of a nineties trance single, ’1998′. It was an exciting taster of what the band were capable of – it consisted of delightful experimentation without forgoing pop sensibilities, before a divine messy splurge of an ending. In those ten minutes, we saw (potentially) what Peace’s artistic scope was – and it was pretty exciting.
In Love, the band’s debut, is filled with ringing guitars on its opening number, semi-rousing anthem ‘Higher Than The Sun’. It doesn’t quite get out of the blocks, sounding sadly rather generic. That’s shot to pieces on early single ‘Follow Baby’, and we’re quickly back in the high gear the quartet found on Delicious last year. Filled with noisy feedback and a gorgeous acid-guitar refrain, it’s akin to Nirvana’s grungy loud-quiet structures, perhaps softened up, making for a thoroughly enjoyable track. In Love is a rather poppy affair in parts, ‘Wraith’ is instantly catchy as opposed to the more subtly brilliant ’Follow Baby’. Loud-quiet is something Peace utilise a lot on the record, ‘Float Forever’ continuing this trend.
Problem is, you’re only as strong as your weakest player, and sometimes Peace seem out of ideas. ‘Lovesick’ is a perfectly listenable rock-song, but that’s really it. Koisser’s lyrics throughout are uninspiring, and the ancient cliche of the ‘sixth-form-poet’ is only too apt here. One can argue that lyrical majesty isn’t Peace’s aim – which is fair – but it’s a little disappointing when things are as painfully cliched as “I just wanna be a fool and get lovesick / with you”. It’s regrettable that this is so early on, because things drastically improve afterward. ‘Delicious’ is a nicely off-kilter track, with plenty of room for dancing.
More than a few times Peace borrow rather brazenly from some old British pop acts – ‘Waste of Paint’ owes everything to Blur’s ‘There’s No Other Way’ – but it doesn’t do too much to mar the album’s feel. It’s still doused in spacey, acidic guitar like the rest of Peace’s catalogue, perhaps just enough to stop Damon Albarn’s lawyers giving the gents a rather unsavoury phone call. Indeed, bonus track ‘Scumbag’ wouldn’t sound out of place on a Nirvana record if it had some moodier vocals. It’s cleaner and poppier of course, but structurally you can see Peace’s influences rather easily.
Ironically, some of the most adventurous cuts on In Love are only available on its deluxe release. ‘Drain’, initially a poppy ballad, boils to a grating climax, the latter half a delightfully trippy slab of jamming between Kossier and Castle’s intertwined guitars. Perhaps this signals what Peace are really shooting for on In Love - and that’s hook-laden pop success. ‘Step A Lil’ Closer’ perhaps confirms the theory: simpler than ‘Drain’, but filled with exquisite wailing guitars. That said, Peace’s more radio-friendly approach isn’t completely watered down on the likes of ‘Follow Baby’ or ‘Wraith’ – and those, after all, are it’s two lead singles.
In Love is, then, a diverting pop record, with a few nice twists on traditional rock-song structures. It’s a shame that the group’s looser, experimental side that was all to present on their first EP remains relatively untapped – though if you’re dying for that aspect of them, the deluxe edition just about suffices. It’s a little slower, less urgent, more considered, and for the most part it’s a successful approach, though whether it delivers on the artistic promise of the Delicious EP is debatable. Still, even if they do stall more than a few times, Peace’s brand of psychedelic guitar-pop shows some promise - though it isn't full realised here.