Fresh from the success of debut album In Love, Peace have been squirreling away in the studio to create a follow up to aid the continuation of their ascendency into the upper reaches of the current indie elite. The pressure clearly was felt as the group spent longer and longer in the studio. Happy People finally sees light of day, 11 months after the debut of single ‘World Pleasure’. The question is though whether it has escaped the perils of “2nd album syndrome”.
The answer is…well yes and no. Opening on the lackluster ‘O You’ the signs don’t look too promising with a track that aims too high lyrically but winds up falling flat, with the music suffering as a direct result. This is a pattern that follows the album’s duration, but more on that later.
2nd track ‘Gen Strange’ displays the real reason for Peace’s breakthrough success, their ability to turn an average song into a killer track via amazing hooks that wrestle into your brain and embed into your memory. ‘Gen Strange’ is one such track. If you don’t wind up humming or singing the “How do you do it?” refrain it’s probably safe to say you’re never going to be the sort of person who dances along to songs in the privacy of their bedroom. The same applies to ‘Lost On Me’, with a killer riff on guitar driving what would otherwise be a moderately alright track into something catchy and likeable.
However the double salvo of ‘Perfect Skin’ and ‘Happy People’ again find singer Harry Koisser overestimating his lyrical prowess. The cliched subject matter of ‘Perfect Skin’ isn’t served any favours by lines like “You’re so clever, I’m so dumb” or “I wish I wore gorgeous clothes, with muscle surrounding my bones”.
The game of Koisser lyrical bingo continues on ‘Happy People’ with “I’m a bad computer, slow to load”. At least the vocal delivery helps the song along better than on the opener or ‘Perfect Skin’. Either way though, this would be a weak B-Side for many of the bands they aim to be up amongst.
Tracks like ‘Someday’ and ‘Money’ are growers, working their way through great melodies to the extent that they get better with each listen. ‘Money’ for instance has such a pounding bass groove that we’re even able to forget the pretentious and bloated lyrics…”Bitcoins pay for beatings”, COME ON!
‘I’m A Girl’ and ‘Worlds Pleasure’ however almost make the album worth the entry fee alone. When the band play it loose lyrically and musically and just slip into a vibe or a groove, they are unbeatable and that’s what they do on both of these tracks. The hard rocking and grunge influenced ‘I’m A Girl’ probably shouldn’t work lyrically but does…somehow. Maybe it’s because instead of aiming to make judgements about things they really aren’t informed about or trying to have pops at capitalism and pop culture (all while appearing on Made In Chelsea) they actually focus on a simple male/female complex…identity and turn it into an outsider anthem. Writing what could be construed as a feminist themed track could be risky for an all male band, but they pull it off well (bar a tacky fake orgasm sound near the end).
‘World Pleasure’ is pure and simply the best track on the album. Debuted last year it tore through the festival circuit, becoming a summer anthem and live favourite in the process. With it’s funky as fuck bass line, some strangely effective cod-rapping and some madchester-esque wah powered guitar, the track reaches anthemic appeal before taking off into euthoria with a bass riff that owes a large debt to Mani of The Stone Roses, maybe they should get him a nice toby jug for his collection to say thanks?
In terms of the bonus tracks on the deluxe edition, it’s rather a mixed bag. The standout tracks are ‘God’s Gloves’, ‘Imaginary’ and ‘Flirting USA’.
All three track should definitely have made the album but what on earth were the band thinking leaving off the brilliant ‘Flirting USA’. This song could easily have been a decent single but is instead buried on the deluxe edition of an album that already possesses too much filler.
Happy People is a decent album all in all with some great stand-out tracks (mainly the singles it has to be said), but suffers from a ambitiousness that aims to mask the bands insecurity. Peace are a cracking band but instead of running away from their identity and strengths (acid soaked guitar pop) and trying to do something completely different, they should develop and a slower pace.
All in all some promising signs from the band, and this album won’t detract the existing fan, whether it assists them in gaining a gathering of new ones remains to be seen.