More about: Peach Pit
It only seemed like yesterday when Peach Pit’s eponymous single was uploaded to TheLazyLazyMe channel, instantly going viral. Since then, the Canadian larrikins have been working hard on refining their sound with their debut, Being So Normal. On their second album, You And Your Friends, Peach Pit draw varying vignettes of characters, usually in shades of forlorn shoegaze, psych-rock or poppy beach rock.
The band shines when their perceptive songwriting marries with their penchant for catchy guitar riffs. ‘Shampoo Bottles’ is a perfect testament to this fusion, as it portrays the material aftermath of a break-up. From the “crumb of fancy soap” to the “organic hoo hah” that clutters the narrator’s place (and conscious), the song functions almost as the spiritual successor of John Mayer’s ‘Still Feel Like Your Man’. It’s a touching portrayal, and lead songwriter Neil Smith does an excellent job balancing the bitterness of him criticising his ex’s leftovers with the more sobering reality of what that means.
Peach Pit also shine when they’re given colourful characters to play with. “I haven’t left my room in days, even though you might think I might want to,” Smith drones on ‘Camilla, I’m At Home’. Whilst the melody could have been stronger, this song is excellent in creating a sense of distanced intimacy, combined with its lax drum beat perfectly accompanying the track. ‘Black Licorice’ is another excellent exploration of being a burden to your friends, using the perfect metaphor of black liquorice as a device for feeling unwanted. Coupled with the punchy, wailing guitar riffs, this track is downbeat yet still fun. It must be said, however, that both ‘Camilla…’ and ‘Black Licorice’ have verses with the melody reminiscent of their eponymous breakout hit, ‘Peach Pit’ - there could have been more melodic exploration on this album.
However, not all songs are able to consistently balance these elements together. Often, the mixing lacks finesse, and the stark contrast between the vocal lines and the accompaniment leave the track sounding unpolished. Lead single ‘Feeling Low (Fckboy Blues)’ had the potential to be a fun, surf-rock smash hit. Despite the somewhat dreary lyrics, it’s a lively song that one could imagine would be a favourite at live shows. Unfortunately, the mixing on the album makes the vocals stand out a little too much, making it uncomfortable to listen to. It’s unclear whether this is an aesthetic choice or not; regardless, it detracts from the excellent lyricism that the boys have to offer.
Other times, it’s the arrangements themselves which let down the track, often being too cluttered or too discordant. ‘Puppy Grin’ sows some interesting seeds of ideas, but the guitar lines are too discordant to be enjoyable. Conversely, ‘Figure 8’ is a picturesque song both in its lyricism and its sound, being gorgeously gauzy and almost impressionistic in its poetry. “Watch her as she pirouettes, watch her figure 8 with that style,” Smith sings dreamily. The chorus, however, is overpowered by the muddy onslaught of guitars, making it difficult for the listener to parse the words. They might feel imperceptible, but choices such as these decrease the quality of the album.
Ultimately, whilst there are moments of brilliance on the record, there are too many inconsistent elements for this album to be truly enjoyable. When they want to, the band can write some great tunes and make even more astute observations. Unfortunately, You And Your Friends is too timid to be the kind of record that Peach Pit could have been making.
You and Your Friends is out now via Columbia Records.
More about: Peach Pit