Peace - In Love

by Rich Morris Rating:6 Release Date:2013-03-25

Birmingham four-piece Peace differ from your usual bunch of hastily force-grown NME indie-rock saviours by actually having some talent. They don't have talent to burn, but on debut album In Love, they show that they know how to make it stretch just far enough.

Their ace is undoubtedly guitarist Doug Castle, who puts in an early bid for axe-hero status on the likes of recent single 'Wraith'. The band's sonic debt to the late-80s/early-90s baggy sound has been noted, and it's definitely there, especially on the freaky dancing likes of 'Waste of Paint', on which singer Harrison Koisser sounds like a mildly less grubby Shaun Ryder. One of the things about baggy's leading lights, from The Stone Roses to Happy Mondays to Blur, is that they all had extremely accomplished guitarists whose fluid riffing made their indie-funk stylings palatable to serious rock fans and the traditionalist likes of Q.

So there's a lot of promise on In Love. What there isn't a lot of, you may not be shocked to learn, is originality. Most songs are a smash-grab of 90s UK indie-rock sounds, from the Britpop grandstanding and harmonies of 'Toxic' (very Mansun) to the Beatles-aping psychedelia of 'Sugarstone' (so very, very Oasis). The album also suffers from a palpable lack of depth, something which was indicative of so much 90s indie. A lot of this can be put down to Koisser who, for the most part, sings in an appealing Marc Bolan-esque chirp, but sounds so thoroughly self-satisfied and emotionally blank you find yourself tuning him out. Why bother paying attention when the singer isn't really bothering?

Then there are the song titles. OK, guys, we get that blazing iconoclasm isn't your strong point, but opening with a track called 'Higher than the Sun' and ending with one called 'California Daze'? Seriously, are you taking the piss? Maybe they are. At it's best, as on the baggy-meets-hard-rock-heroics of 'Follow Baby', In Love is playful and joyful, capable of delivering a decent enough sugar-rush to transcend its blatant limitations.

Peace have enough talent to make you wonder what they might evolve into, although on this album Koisser is easily the weakest link in the chain, with Castle's inventive, Bernard Butler-style riffing too often the sole point of interest. Peace might have something great inside them, but it could take a lot of work and some increased ambition to bring it out.

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