By Declan Roberts (@DeclanMR)
Where do you begin with Peace? A band out of Birmingham with no fear and no idea of their ‘future success’. It’s a mystery question. Firstly, the fact that the resurgence of indie-pop is a secure mantelpiece for them to play for. Secondly, Harry Koisser is a superb songwriter. He knows every little detail for a perfect pop tune that turns into a gig anthem when played live. It’s enhanced with every show they play. They hit the ground running with ‘EP – Delicious’ that smashed their way through the barrier of underground bands to well-known indie icons.
It was with debut record In Love that their upward trajectory was clear to see. Regular plays on Zane Lowe’s Radio 1 show, Reading and Leeds performances and sold out headline shows around the UK secured success. There’s a lot riding on their sophomore, Happy people, then. Will it be like their debut record? Will fans hate it? Is it better? Those can’t and never will be answered. A second record is always a growth from the first in every case for artists and bands. You learn a lot from touring and meeting people throughout the process. For Peace, it’s a coming of age.
So how does it sound? Thanks to the producing talent of Jim Abbiss (Arctic Monkeys, Adele and Kasabian) these new tracks feel crisper and more sophisticated than previous efforts. Harry has put extra effort into his song, dedicating most of his time to making the songs the best they could be by travelling to unusual places to write them. On ‘Lost On Me’ the band present us with a groovy, psyched-out banger that boogies from chords to melodies and lines like “I love it when it hits the lightning on your lips / it’s lost on me” hit the mark. A funky and more mature Peace song, a big change from the indie-pop lover boy tracks that that populated ‘In Love’. ‘Someday’ is nothing compared to ‘California Daze’, but it is a superbly crafted heartbreak ballad. It casts you along this makeshift Peace ‘raft’ that sails slowly across a sea of acoustic heaven. Just over halfway in it provides a break from the jangle-pop norm and delivers those chilled summer vibes.
‘O You’ strikes a chord that many Beatles songs have. It has that element of British pride that makes you feel so passionate you just can’t help but sway and sing along. It’s a heartfelt song that Harry’s peachy vocals preach “just trying to change the world that we live in”. ‘I’m A Girl’ is possibly the highlight of the album. Clocking at three minutes and the shortest song on the album, you know it’s going to be a thrill ride. Referring back to ‘Perfect Skin’ and ‘Happy People’, it looks on the misunderstood parts of society, “if we’re living in a man’s world / i’m a girl / i’m a girl / i’m a girl”. ’Perfect Skin’ focuses on Harry’s uncertainties of being himself and wanting to be more like other people around him, as he croons “I wish I had perfect skin / I wish I was tall and thin” going into a darker subject than a usual love-at-first-sight melody.
The title track is actually a song for the not so happy people in life. Lines such as “sometimes I feel like we’re made out of stone / trying to move / but there is nowhere to go” overshoot the mark and feel bratty and arrogant.. ‘World Pleasure’ is a fitting closer featuring a sample from Thievery Corporation’s ‘Revolution’ remastered in all its glory. Recorded in two parts and described by Harry in a recent issue of NME as being the most expensive song they’ve ever made after nearly blowing the whole album budget on it, it came out pretty well. Samuel’s bass playing on this track is extraordinary. It grooves, bops, pops and rumbles like a great bassline should. The whole track sounds similar to Blondie’s ‘Rapture’ with plenty of Stone Roses’ influences too.
Taken as a whole, Peace’s second record is solidly constructed and original. Some would call it safe, ‘same-y’ and rushed but it’s a pure transition from their debut, and that is a feat in itself.