Peaches has built her musical career around doing one thing and doing it well. She constantly attempts to up the ante of shock value with every album, eliciting a “Did she really just say that?” or two. But since she so rarely deviates from her trademark form, the queen of electroclash shock treatment rarely shocks those who expect the expected.
No matter. Peaches is just so good at not only verbalizing the unsayable and indefinable, but making them danceable as well. “Fuck the Pain Away” so pithily described the generation that bred many of Peaches’s listeners. On her last album, 2006’s Impeach My Bush, she moved from individual pain to the collective agony of a disenfranchised generation on songs like “Fuck or Kill”. It’s hard to shelve hopes that she will continue to capture each phase of Gen Y zeitgeist.
That is precisely the challenge Peaches faces with I Feel Cream. While the entire album is enjoyable, it mostly consists of Peaches being Peaches, containing only a few standout tracks that catch her at her prime and serve as a time capsule for this era.
“Serpentine” begins the album with dirty beats and grunts that linger beneath chimed accents, slam poetry verses, and a chorus that’s pure Peaches: “I don’t give a fuck if you’re calling me / I don’t give a fuck if you’re mauling me.” By “Talk to Me”, Peaches has decided to care if you are, in fact, calling her. This song showcases Peaches’s vocal range well, mixing a theremin-like synth between the beats and the vocals, which range from ‘80s-inspired vocal struts to Peaches’s trademark sing-rapping. “Lose You” is a retro treat that wouldn’t sound out of place amidst “Heart of Glass”-era Blondie, but its repetitiveness makes the three and a half minutes seem a bit longer than it is. Fear not, as Peaches may well be admonishing herself for that, starting “More” with the declaration “gonna whip this party into shape”. The dissonant sounds and synthesized shrieks that accent the last minute of “More” elevate the song well, but “More”‘s grungy stabs and stretchy sonic phrases, overlaid with “seems you got more than you asked for”, are less than we know Peaches can give.
Thankfully, “Billionaire” brings pack the Peaches we know and love, rapping about “big trouble in little man-gina” and throwing in a Paris Hilton homage (“I’m hot! I’m hot!”) before she ascends to the chorus hook’s “fuck you like a billionaire”. And this is the Peaches we were waiting for, the woman who manages to summarize an age’s fascination with the spectacle of wealth even as she smoothly blends it into cotton candy retro: “Fuck you like a billionaire / Ooh, billionaire, love affair, take you there.”
Then, just like an heiress going from a sex video star to a delicate, puppy-toting celebutante, “I Feel Cream” enters stage right all full of sweetness. For a moment, one can almost imagine that the titular cream is simply a rich dairy product. Almost. The title track leads in well to another album highlight, “Trick or Treat”. “Never go to bed without a piece of raw beat,” zings the chorus several times before “there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of
”. “Mud”‘s sultry vocals over electronic bubble wrap sounds lend a subtlety rarely heard in Peaches’s music. Granted, this means that she only downgrades from a girl who fucks in public to a girl who fucks in a public bathroom, but it’s nice for there to be a door to open.
I Feel Cream is a fun and worthwhile album, though is unlikely to change any minds about Peaches. Fortunately, that also means she shows no signs of losing her touch. “Billionaire” and “Trick or Treat” will hopefully take their rightful places in her canon, her next crop will offer something new to fuck, and the sweetness will go on.