It should be clear to any music listener of a certain age what to expect when an album’s opening track is titled “Higher Than the Sun”. The Primal Scream track of the same name was a major influence on the British indie dance/rock scene of the early ‘90s that paved the way for Britpop to dominate the UK music headlines and charts for a few heady years in the mid-‘90s. And while In Love certainly plants its guitars in that era, it is actually a couple years earlier that the main influences of this album belong, that of the Baggy scene bestrode by the Happy Mondays and the Stones Roses. This is no bad timing on behalf of Peace, who signed to Colombia after a keenly fought old fashioned A&R bidding war and subsequently released the well received EP Delicious as the Stone Roses have recently reformed amongst huge expectation and waves of nostalgia in the UK, if not quite so much in the USA.
The guitar and drum patterns of the Roses pepper this album by Birmingham-based Peace. Fronted by the engaging and enigmatic Harry Koisser and joined by his brother Sam Kossier on bass alongside the excellent guitarist Douglas Castle and drummer Dominic Boyce, In Love is sure to garner much love amongst a younger audience but a resigned shrug, or even gnashing of teeth, amongst older listeners. “Higher Than the Sun” is a competent album opener, shards of psychedelic, quietly reverbing, guitars, pounding drums, all set at a nice tempo, with Kossier intoning “You know you’re fun / I’ll take the jump / All I wanna know is how high / Higher than the sun.” It has indie chorus anthem writ large all over it.“Follow Baby” is more Nirvana like, screechy guitars set against Kossier’s taut vocals and even a hint of the quiet, noise, quiet patterns of grunge era bands.
“Lovesick” then comes on with Vampire Weekend afro-indie guitars and is a highlight of the album with its insanely anthemic sing-along refrain of “Lovesick with you / I wanna get lovesick with you” and then straight into “Float Forever” a lovely, simple Blur homage “Sit atop the Eiffel in your mind / If you’re not happy wearing denim / You’re a devil in disguise.” This is mid-‘90s indie, but you know, it’s good mid-‘90s indie.“Wraith” has more afro-indie guitar, underpinned by the Roses/Monday’s loose baggy sound while “Drain” is more routine indie musings.
It’s on “Waste of Paint” and “Sugarstone” that the most obvious pastiche on the album occurs with the former being the bastard twin of the Stone Roses “Fools Gold” crossed with Blur’s “There’s No Other Way” whilst the latter is an update of Oasis’s update of the Beatles via “Wonderwall.” Neither, unfortunately, are in the same class as the originals but nonetheless both are still good songs that will cement their reputation with their adoring fans whilst simultaneously attracting new followers. “California Daze”, “Scumbag” and closer “Bloodshake” are all more good, catchy, tuneful songs that are well above the offerings of your average indie band but they do have the air of a young band finding their feet in the middle of a media hype frenzy.
In Love will attract two distinct types of reaction. Young audiences will love it, free and ignorant maybe, of the influences so apparent in Peace’s music, whilst others, those a bit more long in the tooth, will fail to understand the fuss and hype and will be tempted to dismiss the album and the band as a one off, devoid of originality. To do so though would be a disservice I think to the band. They certainly know how to write catchy indie guitar music and, given the chance, will improve and find their own voice, their own sound and develop into the band many people claim they already are. They are not there yet, but I’m looking forward to seeing what direction they take next.
As John Lennon said, all we are saying, is give Peace a chance.