‘Peace – Happy People’ Album Review

“We’re just the same old Peace. The four boys from the middle of England doing what they do best, doing the only thing they can”, this is what frontman Harrison Koisser had to say about their new record Happy People a few months ago. Now that release date is almost upon us, we can all judge if they are still the same old Peace. Still the same lads in fur coats creating tracks for a generation of teenagers who don’t really have a band who really represent them. Could Peace be that band? Possibly. In Love laid down the foundations, now it’s time for Happy People to build on that.

Beginning with a flurry of melodies that have a really Caribbean/Reggae feel to them, O You instantly shows that Peace have matured musically since the release of their debut In Love. With the introduction of strings, O You sounds like a more grander and sophisticated Peace. However this sound isn’t to impress and get people to take them more seriously, it’s more just used to make a cracking tune. Also who do they really need to impress? Peace have one of the best fanbases around and have stellar live performances to back them.

From here we tick into Gen Strange. Starting with sound of a clock, this ode to Britpop bounces and swaggers around like Liam Gallagher on acid. Frontman Harry sings ‘How do you do it? How do you do it so good?’ and this brings up the question, how do Peace do it? Being able to capture the bagginess and funk of Britpop but also sounding current isn’t an easy task. The only other band who manage to pull this off are fellow Birmingham lot Superfood.

Next on Happy People is single Lost On Me. Peace fans will be more than familiar with this track. A twisted love song that’s about infatuation, Lost On Me has this funky hook that’s infectious. The chorus is so contagious and could even make Alistair Darling bust some moves. Lost On Me is one of Peace’s more poppier moments in their discography but it shows that Peace can make a superb pop song.

With Perfect Skin Peace address a subject that not many bands address, especially an indie band from Birmingham, and that’s body image. It begins with Harry listing the compliments of someone then backs them with qualities that he doesn’t like about himself. Obviously this probably is more of an observation and Harry is singing about society as a whole and how we want ‘perfect skin’. It’s a unusual subject matter for them to take but it works. It’s important that bands like this talk about these issues as it impacts alot of their fanbase. This track doesn’t just rely on its lyrics, the chorus packs a mighty punch too. It bursts out of nowhere with so much conviction as Harry sings ‘I wish I had perfect skin’. In the latter half there is a heavy bass solo along with a guitar solo that helps round off this unexpected yet fascinating track.

From the title you’d think Happy People would be a joyous track full of colour. The type of track you’d want to hear whilst at a music festival on a sunny day. Well, that’s not the case… It’s a rather dark odyssey that you’d expect Foals might release. The guitars reverberate to create this massive expansive sound that makes it sound like it was recorded in a cathedral. With ethereal backing vocals, Peace ask ‘Where did all the happy people go?’. The whole track sounds like a less raw poppier version of WU LYF. Again another odd choice for Peace to take but it works and it results in one the best sounding tracks production wise on this record and in fact all of their discography.

Someday is the first acoustic track Peace have recorded and according to Harry he was the only one who really wanted it to go on the record. He described it as a classic breakup song and boy he’s not wrong. Someday could honestly make a grown man shed a tear. Accompanied with his acoustic guitar, Harry sings about how it’s a ‘lonely, lonely life’ and how he wishes a certain person that ‘they’ll find someone to love’. Electric guitars reverb in the background to create an amazing atmosphere. There is one point in the track where it’s just an instrumental and it hits you right in the heart. With sharp cold synths that soar upwards and shimmering echos of guitars, this is the most beautiful moment on Happy People. I’d even say this is probably one of Peace’s best songs.

Just like Lost On Me, Money should be instantly recognisable to anyone who has been following Peace these last couple of months. It begins with this addictive riff that is so sharp and catchy that it cuts right into you. The bass is incredibly groovy and this gets turned up a few notches when the song has breakdown. This builds towards the final chorus and you find yourself wanting to move your hips like Shakira, okay that may be an exaggeration… Money finishes with a Bloodshake-esque crescendo that results in warped and psychedelic guitars that fade away as they squeal like they are in pain. Money is you’re textbook Peace with a funkier spin on it.

I’m A Girl is another track on Happy People that’s on a topic that doesn’t get really addressed by the indie scene. A track about masculinity and how it defines people, I’m A Girl has tonnes of attitude and is massive middle finger to conservative society. The guitars snarl and the bassline thumps to the point where this track wouldn’t feel out of place on Superfood’s debut. It’s just a really fun track that will no doubt go down a storm live.

Despite all the positives Under The Moon is a misstep for Peace. They try and recreate a track with the same vibe as Float Forever or California Daze and it doesn’t really pay off. It takes the steam out of the album and doesn’t really go anywhere. Unlike Someday which felt like it had meaning and purpose to be there, Under The Moon doesn’t and frankly falls flat. I’d even go far enough to say it’s Peace’s weakest track… Sorry lads but it’s true. It should have really been a B-Side or a bonus track on the deluxe version. In a ideal world, Flirting USA should have had it’s place in my opinion. However we don’t live in a perfect world do we?

The final track on Happy People is World Pleasure, a track that Harry said nearly blew all of their budget. Sounding like Pet Shop Boys West End Girls mixed with Blondie’s Rapture, World Pleasure is certainly a track where Peace are exposing their influences. The instrumentation is so lush with orchestral strings, bass solos and baggy drums. The later half of the track sounds like Primal Scream’s ‘Loaded’ has had a child with The Stone Roses ‘I Am The Resurrection’. World Pleasure finishes off Happy People is a perfect fashion.

So has this left us ‘Happy People’? Early singles suggested it would be a funky groove-fest but tracks like Happy People (ironically) and Someday provided more somber moments. It is however a good follow up to what is arguably a very strong debut. With interesting song topics and catchy choruses, Happy People is a brilliant second outing with the Brummie lads that doesn’t disappoint, well apart from Under The Moon but we’ll ignore that for old times sake.

8/10

Liam Egan

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