Peace are the poster-boys for B-Town, West Madlands, or whatever the kids are calling it these days; it’s the most exciting music scene in the UK. And for that there’s good reason: fusing indie with everything from baggy and britpop to psychedelia, grunge and pop and making it sound as almost indescribably good as they do sets them well ahead of the rest of the pack. Following on from last year’s acclaimed EP Delicious, In Love, like many of the best debuts, is as much an amalgamation of their record collection and revivalism of their favourite eras as it is a modern record that sounds distinctly 2013.
Much of this is indebted to Jim Abbiss’ production. Much like he did for Arctic Monkeys on their debut, he captures all of the radiant, vibrant charisma that makes Peace unique – their live shows, for example, are characterised by hordes of zealous teenagers dripping in denim – by meshing the styles and influences together to create an effortlessly personable, organic fluidity without much of a whiff of staleness. Grounded in indie rock sensibilities, the Reni-influenced drum beats, languid guitar squalls and sultry, nonchalant vocals that crop up throughout most commonly recall The Stone Roses’ jangly groove and Leisure-era Blur, but remain impossible to wholly pigeonhole – they’re an impressively diverse bunch.
In Love is not only brilliantly titled – it’s a sublimely earnest and sincere record mostly drenched thematically in the romance of youth, bearing resemblance to Oasis if only in terms of bravado and sheer optimism. This shines through in opener, ‘Higher Than The Sun’, the explosive live favourite that borrows its name from Primal Scream. It’s a real statement of intent, relying heavily on the soaring, euphoric chorus and the interchanging weave of the reverb-squealing guitar and Babyshambles-esque basslines. A semi-revamped version of ‘Follow Baby’ is next – a slice of amped up floaty psych-grunge – followed by the indie pop melodicism and head-over-heels naivety of ‘Lovesick’ that is so The Cure circa ‘Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me’ it hurts. It’s a faultless quick-fire three-song-punch that really sets the tone for what’s to follow.
Whether it’s on the marauding Foalsian techno-guitar jaunts of ‘Wraith’ or the writhing guitar pop of ‘Toxic’, Harrison Koisser’s vocals are never less than assured, evocative and endlessly endearing in delivering his ambiguously delicious lyrics (see: “you’re like a poison, you linger in my lungs”), matched only by the spidery guitar lines offered by Doug Castle. On ‘Delicious’ his screeching riff consumes the percussion of the bridge and transforms the song into a face-melting beast by the time the chorus hits, but he strays a few notes too close to Coxon’s indelible riff for ‘There’s No Other Way’ on ‘Waste of Paint’ – one minor misstep that takes nothing away from the residual danceability of the Manc aura.
Not amiss with arms-aloft, lighters up moments, serene songs with that elusive anthemic quality are also aplenty here. Standout ‘Float Forever’ opens with Koisser’s gloriously nonsensical musings on chic etiquette, “If you’re not happy wearing denim, you’re a devil in disguise,” before the Beatlesian melodies descend downstream into one of the best and most embracing choruses you will hear all year, whilst closer ‘California Daze,’ the sole survivor of EP Delicious, stays true to Koisser’s endearing propensity for serial romanticism, as he expresses his affection for the girl who “tastes like sunlight” over the progressive harmonies and tender guitar jangles. Festival season may be a way away yet, but this halcyon paean is destined to capture a few more hearts amidst the mud, sweat and beer of Summer 2013, and it provides just about the most perfect way for the rousing, visceral and downright transcendental voyage of In Love to come to an end. Peace have crafted an album to not only fall in love with, but to fall in love to.
For better or for worse, if In Love achieves one thing it’s ensuring that Peace are going to be inescapable this year, because this is simply a masterclass in using your idol’s ideas to enhance your own, in a way that hasn’t been seen since Primal Scream blended rock’s past, present and future with Screamadelica. But, for all the adoration and cues to their heroes, they at least go on to prove one of them wrong: all you need isn’t love, it’s IN LOVE.