Harrison Koisser, lead singer of Peace, gambols onto stage resplendent in shabby-chic attire, a loose tie hanging around his neck like a noose. He carelessly messes his fringe about while ‘Higher Than The Sun’s’ monstrous, dreamlike riff reverberates around the dingy, yet splendidly ragged Brudenell (undoubtedly one of the best small-venues in the country). It’s all an indie cliché but the 16-year-old groupies who welcome his arrival with a chorus of screams care not. Peace are here to indulge them in their wildest faux-hipster dreams.
Peace exploded onto the scene back in 2013, an amalgamation of every indie-rock band that had come in the previous 20 years, with their well-received debut In Love. 2 years later, and Peace have a new album out to satisfy the thirst of those fans still young enough to enjoy their simple pop pleasures. They revel in groove-laden, zesty indie pop that matches their image as B-town bohemian delinquents. B-town of course, being the term NME lumped the class of indie rock bands in 2012, all of which delivered reverb-heavy, aloof indie rock hailing from the city of Birmingham. The other established bands in the scene included Swim Deep, Troumaca and Jaws amongst others, many of which have fallen by the hillside a little in the preceding years. Peace have managed to maintain their reputation, and are undoubtedly one of the premier indie-rock bands in the country as evidenced by this recent sold-out tour.
‘Follow Baby’, their debut single, is an undisputable baggy anthem, a reminder of what made Peace such an exciting prospect back in 2012, as Koisser ruminates “we’re gonna live forever baby”. ‘Generation Strange’ is a bouncy, neo-britpop anthem that has the adolescent crowd bopping in unison. ‘Lost On Me’ has a funky, splicing guitar riff so loose that it would make Keith Richards green with envy. ‘Money’ is slinky as anything; emphasising how hypnotic and riveting Peace can be when they are at their best, perhaps ruined by the lyrics, a vague attempt at an attack on capitalism.
‘California Daze’ slows the pace somewhat disappointingly, but it enters into arguably the highlight of the evening, the crazily ambitious, yet deliciously epic ‘1998’, a song that only featured on Peace’s 2012 Delicious EP. It’s a multi-layered, explorative slow jam that focuses Peace’s undeniable musical skill. Guitars cascade over each other creating a wide screen, evocative soundscape with a U2-esque pulsating middle eighth that travels into another time and dimension before a sound akin to a police siren interrupts the proceedings as we enter what can only be described as a calypso dream world. Luxurious, rich and almost overwhelming, it’s a milestone that Peace struggle to better.
‘Bloodshake’ is a great slice of psychedelic pop, but ‘Flood Forever’ feels lethargic and distinctly unoriginal. ‘Sugarstone’ is ponderous, with a chorus that is basically a poor man’s Wonderwall with Koisser mumbling “you’re my sugarstone”.
A stage invasion interrupts the final song of the evening ‘World Pleasure’, as the crowd eagerly attempt to get closer to their heroes, lifting themselves onto the stage like sirens surging for a washed up sailor.
The songs need more strength in the vocals to carry them through live, which Koisser duly ignores with his faltering and withering voice failing him throughout, as he slurs his way through the songs with a laissez-faire attitude that excites the crowd already sold on Peace’s free-living, beatnik vibe but may disappoint those in the crowd who are less bought in. They carefully ride the wave between shambolic cool and sounding plain messy, especially during ‘Perfect Skin’, where the tight, Krautrock inspired guitar lines are spoilt by squealing, ear-piercing feedback. Koisser’s weaknesses are however tempered by Douglas Castle’s virtuoso guitar skills. The secret weapon in Peace’s arsenal, Castle lifts Peace from being mere members of the indie proletariat, to aristocratic kings of the scene. His playing is vivacious – relaxed and swooning at times, brutal and cutting at others.
Now on album number 2, it remains to be seen whether Peace can be anything more than a promising outfit. They wear their influences on their sleeves, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but do they have that unique quality that takes a band up into the realms of legend? Their fan base is fervent and they know their way around a tight, catchy, pop song, however there becomes a point where we have to be asking for more from our nation’s indie royalty.