Last September the music world went crazy for a half watermelon with a crude peace sign hacked into its flesh. More accurately, swathes of people were fawning over Peace. “Britpop revival!” shrieked endless voices, with plenty of comparisons to WU LYF, Foals and the like being bandied around too, like limited edition vinyl records. Detractors also swept in for the kill, bearing their usual cloud of pessimism and casting an ominous grey monsoon.
It is true that Peace are a sum of their influences, but it is also simplistic – and rather reductive – to view them only through the lens of supposed originality. Looking down your nose at “derivative” music seems to go hand in hand with having rose tinted glasses perched on the end of aforementioned nose – with the recurrent slogan “just ain’t like it used to be” tainting every single sentence.
Peace inevitably grew up listening to Britpop (didn’t every ’90s kid?) but it’s unfair to compare In Love to a student’s reheated microwave meal, cooking up the same old thing all over again. Opener ‘Higher Than The Sun’ glitters against a wash of haze – and it’s far more My Bloody Valentine than Blur.There are touches of early Cure here, scatterings of Haçienda-flavoured tomfoolery there, but methodical, anatomical dissection seems to rather ruin the fun.
Harry Koisser, with snarling lip, has a sort of blithe angst that oozes charismatic appeal, making every lyric bleed with the pain of adolescent alienation. Douglas Castle is absolutely pivotal too though, providing tumultuous solos and shimmering melody in equal measure. These are the kind of riffs that make you want to jump around your bedroom playing air guitar; reenacting the year you discovered Nirvana. There is something intangibly magnetic about In Love, and it feels like a wonderful, igniting record – when so many other “indie” records fail to stir any emotion other than indifference.
The problem with walking along whilst constantly turning back and peering behind is that you inevitably miss what is around you in the present, and – a more immediate concern – wallop your head on an obstructing lamppost. For all their charming familiarity, Peace are best enjoyed with those rose-tinted glasses taken off, and preferably smashed underfoot. Those lamenting the demise of “proper headliners” or “proper music” would do well (brace yourself for the obligatory pun) to give Peace a chance. Breathing with quiet craft and passion beneath those baggy guitar lines, Peace have songs big enough to fill stadiums here. Everything is borrowed, as they say, and whatever pieces have been used to assemble In Love, the end product is not simply derivative, it is Very Exciting indeed.