IN ASSOCIATION WITH:
Midlands four piece, Peace, leapt into the hearts of the public with their joyously escapist debut album In Love in 2013. The album attempted to capture the live energy and sense of spontaneity that had made Peace one of the most sought-after live acts in the UK, gracing every tastemaker music front cover, playing two sold out Shepherds Bush Empire shows, and sticking a top 20 debut album in their back pocket. Their heart-on-sleeve indie anthemics, enthusiastic and youthful zing and an ability to write uplifting, soaring choruses saw an army of obsessive fans announce themselves up and down the country, tattooing Peace logos on various body parts and shaving it on the back of their heads.
Something was happening. Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood swapped a pair of his cargo trousers for one of their demos, and Usher elbowed his way through the crowds to watch them at an early Sxsw show. The music, in places, nods to the baggy era of the 90s (The Guardian called it ‘baggy meets My Bloody Valentine’) but there’s something more to Peace that is hugely likeable, addictive and compelling in equal parts. Perhaps it’s their endearing and youthful innocence, but equally it might be the appeal of singer Harry Koisser, who some have called music’s most compelling new frontman; a wide-eyed romantic with the dress sense of a young Nicky Wire, and the rock’n’roll swagger of Mick Jagger. Their infamous live shows were born out of a tech house night at ‘The Rainbow’ in Birmingham, where Peace played relentlessly month upon month, slipping in the odd house music cover and garnering an army of fans as they went. It was an ardour and an intensity as well as a strong sense of mischief that carried them onwards: in just a few short years they travelled from late- night, low-paid lives in the Midlands, to a major label deal and international success.
Fast-forward a year and a half, Peace have stepped up from songs for indie clubs, to something much, much bigger. Their second album titled Happy People has the kind of ambitious spirit which has the potential of touching lives of millions: “I think it’s because we’ve got such short attention spans that we just always want to do something new and exciting,” says Harry Koisser. “It’s not that we get bored exactly, it’s just that we want to try something different.” Whether it’s down to attention deficit or due to a restless appetite for music, sound and song writing, there is a glorious sense of adventure to the midland four-piece’s second record Happy People. Some of this exploratory feeling might be traced to the world opening up for Koisser, his brother Samuel (bass), Douglas Castle (guitar) and Dominic Boyce (drums). Hailing from various towns in the Midlands and formed in Birmingham in 2010 the band signed to Columbia records and were soon touring the world – to countries they’d never been to before and places they’d never heard of.
Consequently, Happy People was written on the road and in hotel rooms, taking influences from strange experiences around the globe, from shifting scenes, of movement, of flavours that rise and falls, feelings that ebb and flow, all a perfect reflection of their new, itinerant lives. It’s no secret that Peace have a love of rhythm and pop melodies, and nowhere is this more apparent than on glorious album opener O You – a bold, nostalgic song full of glistening strings and a huge earworm hook of a chorus which you can almost hear drifting across the fields at a festival. Similarly album title track Happy People’s infectious and melodic boldness is the confident sound of a band here to make their mark; all swirling guitar riffs and explosive choruses, resulting in a rush so giddy it puts hairs on the back of the neck. Koisser tackles themes of image, anxiety and self-loathing in Perfect Skin, topics that highlight an inner fragility and vulnerability, and perhaps appeal to the young audience he sings to night upon night.
Elsewhere, the bombastic, bassline heavy Lost on Me, which was released earlier the summer, growls along showing a different side to the band - at Reading & Leeds this year, fans were singing the chorus back.
More fragile, quieter moments appear on tracks like Someday a quiet, beautiful and moving break up song drawing on Koisser’s own life experiences, and the more mournful, pared down Under the moon, a nostalgic love song on the theme of loneliness.
The album was mostly produced by Jim Abbiss (Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian, Bombay Bicycle Club), who also produced In Love; “he’s one of the only producers I can think of who does things the old way,” Koisser explains. “Everything goes through the desk, he only uses the computer as a tape machine. The authenticity of it was important, and I think you can feel that. Or I can, in the music.” The band was toying around with recording equipment, pursuing a sound that was scuzzed but beautiful, lo-fi and surly, but somehow with a sheen. Duncan Mills produced Someday, I'm A Girl and Perfect Skin. Mills previously produced Drain on the deluxe of Peace's first album and has also worked with Beyond The Wizards Sleeve, Malcolm McLaren and Crocodiles.
While he says he has always enjoyed the ambiguity of his own lyrics, Kossier is now relishing a more focused approach to his words, the placing of the blurred and the precise, side by side; “I really like choruses that are simple, sometimes just one line repeated four times, but the verses can be complex,” he says.
The brilliance of these songs is in their effervescence — in how for all the craft and consideration and studio experimentation, how irresistible and irrepressible and effortless they sound. These are songs of youth and joy, these are choruses to be sung loud and en masse, this is the sound of a band on fire.
The new album is currently available to pre-order on Amazon.