Despite having already been treated to half of the ten songs on their new record Happy People, question marks still remained over Peace. Are they just the Nineties pretenders as the cynics claim? Would they fall victim to the archetypal second album clichés of making everything sound bigger without actually having anything better to say?
If the title was anything to go by they would be carrying on in the same vein as their uplifting and charmingly wet-behind-the-ears debut, In Love. An album which became the soundtrack of 2013 for many. It soon becomes clear that Harry Koisser and co. have wrong footed its listeners. Happy People is an album about ones that aren’t actually that happy at all. ‘O You’ perfectly encapsulates with Koisser confessing that’s he’s simply ‘trying to change world/make it better’, nothing too tricky then eh Harry?
Song for song, Peace’s follow up is more than a match for it’s predecessor. Funky guitar riff driven, indie anthem in the vein of Wraith: cue ‘Lost On Me’ while the catchy-as-fuck void left by ‘Lovesick’ on In Love is aptly filled by ‘Perfect Skin’, another Cure-esque gem. You see the point I’m trying to make. So what is it that makes the band’s second attempt better than their first? In Harry Koisser, Peace have a lyricist; a rare breed in today’s music, that is actually trying to say something. A point backed up no better than on ‘I’m A Girl’. It’s angst-y, it’s confused but above all, it’s Koisser’s fantastic faux fur clad ‘fuck you’ to the man.
the perfect love child of Blur’s lackadaisically loveable Alex James and Mani, The Stone Roses’ fantastic four stringed, groove maker
Idle sections of the music press seem quick to draw parallels between Peace’s distorted guitars and big chorus’ with Britpop bands of yesteryear ignoring the fact that their influences may hark back even further. Take stand out track ‘Money’ for instance, a tune that appears to be a nod to Bowie’s ‘Fame’ both in it’s lyrical theme and frankly, uncanny bridge. There’s even a hint of 70’s glam on ‘Gen Strange’, it’s piano driven groove really wouldn’t be too out of place on a T-Rex Record. It would be foolish to use the word groove without giving a mention the older Koisser in the band, bassist Sam, whose playing style can only be described as the perfect love child of Blur’s lackadaisically loveable Alex James and Mani, The Stone Roses’ fantastic four stringed, groove maker. In short, Sam can play, he can really bloody play. The most befitting example of this arrives on album closer, ‘World Pleasure’. An end to an album that it seems is intent on changing, or maybe just taking on the world. A six minute and twenty-three second end to an album that makes it all seem possible.
spirited melodies fused with melancholy lyrics could confuse listeners and lead us to believe that Peace don’t really know what’s going on in the world around them
Happy People isn’t without its imperfections however. Yes, the rose tinted glasses are coming off for a second. Bookended by brilliance, you can certainly sense a creative lull in the middle of the LP. The title track sees the usually spot on nonchalant delivery of the frontman in danger of coming across as vacant and admittedly, album ballad, ‘Someday’ doesn’t quite stand up to the lighter (or smartphone) holding, arm waving, superb ‘California Daze’ on their first offering. You can also argue that there are contractions splashed all over the record. Spirited melodies fused with melancholy lyrics could confuse listeners and lead us to believe that Peace don’t really know what’s going on in the world around them. But then again, who really does?
It’s utterly energising that an album in 2015 makes you think about something outside the realm of YouTube hits and Tweets. While Peace are still yet to hit the heights of mainstream success that they ambitiously seek, they seem to be making inroads, ‘Happy People is current sitting pretty in the Album Charts at number four. To answer the aforementioned question on whether Harry Koisser’s band have anything better to say now than they did on their excellent debut in short, yes they do. With a name like Peace, is it any wonder that they’re got so much to say about the times we live in?
For more from Impact Music, check us out on Twitter