How about a nice new band to ring in the new year? My best offering is the self-proclaimed “chewed bubble-gum pop” of Peach Pit. North America is exploding with new sounds at the moment, and Peach Pit are the fresh faced representatives of Vancouver in this surge of talent.
They’re a four piece with rather enough facial hair to go around, an EP, an album and the occasional charming cover – their recent festive release of Sufjan Stevens’ “Did I make You Cry On Christmas Day” is arguably better (and certainly more listenable) than the original.
It’s hard to totally pinpoint the genre of these guys, because sonically September’s debut album Being So Normal is quite an about-face from Sweet FA (standing for “F**k All”), their debut EP. It’s not immediately obvious which sound is better (although clearly that’s a subjective question), or which will be more commercially useful: time will tell.
Sweet FA as a whole is cheery, rollicking guitar pop, with the title track particularly bright and dreamy. A gooey pseudo-love song with a bit of an edge, it hints at grungier choruses and more obtuse lyricism. “Seventeen” is the most bubblegum moment of the EP: it could be an Alvvays track, vocals aside. Despite its delightful hedonism, deviation from this kind of song is probably a good idea: it steers them out of a currently saturated sub-genre.
The musical shift is most notably characterised by comparing the two versions of “Drop The Guillotine” – a slow, gauzy and slightly laboured effort on Sweet FA and then also a roaring opening track of Being So Normal. Indeed, it is one of the high points of the album as a whole, and one of their most popular songs.
This new Peach Pit is slacker rock, a really clever mix of grunge and aggression with varied textures, carefully written riffs, and enough clean guitar lines to keep you interested. Verses are pared down, bass-heavy mood-swings (see “Alrighty Aphroditey“) that ricochet into wall-of-sound choruses, reminiscent of a kind of infant Nirvana. The title track totally measures up on this front, with a heavy punchy rhythm section echoing Grizzly Bear and a wailing lead guitar.
Delving further into the album, “Not Me” and “Techno Show” are Dinosaur Jr. level of rock, with the left-over buzz of a pop band trying something new.
“Chagu’s Sideturn” is particularly upbeat, and perhaps would have fit better on the first EP, but the pelting rhythm guitar is suitably Sonic Youth-esque to compensate. Much of the recent material makes me inclined to liken them to rough, garage rock contemporaries such as Purling Hiss rather than dream-pop of Mellow Fellow, for instance.
Peach Pit are pop on a wander, and where it will end up is yet to be identified. What makes them of more interest than the average four piece kicking about is their ability to produce an unforgettable lick, or alternatively a chart-worthy chorus, whatever the genre. It seems like a trait that’ll stand them in good stead: superior songwriting can usually assert itself amongst the competition impeding the multitude of pleasant-enough-sounding groups kicking around with this size of following.
You can catch Peach Pit more or less anywhere in Europe over the next few months as they embark on a particularly thorough tour of the continent. It’s an exciting chance to witness how this multitude of shows affects their rapidly evolving sound. We started with blurry dream pop, and are tending towards overdriven slacker rock. The evocation of “chewed bubble-gum pop” is spot on.
Words by Immy Hequet