Review: Peace – In Love

★★★★☆
Four Stars

2013 is full of exciting new guitar bands, and Birmingham seems to be producing more than its fair share, with JAWS, Swim Deep and most exciting  of all, Peace. Their impossibly infectious hooks and unforgettable guitar riffs first burst into the public’s consciousness in September 2012 on Peace’s wonderful EP Delicious, as well as their debut single, future stadium-filler ‘Follow Baby’. An opening slot on the NME Awards Tour with Palma Violets, Miles Kane and Django Django propelled them further towards the stardom their music warranted as they quickly became one of the growing number of bands being touted for success without so much as an album to their name.

Under the potentially crushing weight of expectation, Peace have done the impossible, and produced a truly excellent album. We’re eased into In Love by ‘Higher Than The Sun’, which roams wildly through different sounds in the psychedelic style that you’d have to expect from the band’s name and album title. If Peace have set out to be the least Googleable band ever, it’s only because they want you, when searching for them, to come across various discourses on Peace & Love and immerse yourself in the Summer of Love ideology that’s clearly had so much of an influence over them.

We would never have thought it possible, but songs like ‘Wraith’ and ‘Follow Baby’, already so familiar to fans of Peace, find new life in the context of In Love. We really couldn’t care less that ‘you could be my Ice Age sugar’, as Harry Koisser croons, means absolutely nothing at all, because we’re already completely lost in a swirling realm of colours, shapes and pure happiness. Douglas Castle on lead guitar deserves considerable credit; his soaring riffs and skittering solos lend momentum to the whole work, perfectly complementing Koisser’s brilliantly varied vocals.

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A perfect balance is struck throughout between the irrepressible energy of the beginning as Peace gather speed through the recklessly powerful ‘Follow Baby’ and ‘Lovesick’ and the smoky haze of the album’s close, as ‘California Daze’ makes us feel for all the world like we’re lounging by the pool in 40 degrees sun without a care in the world. Nowhere is this balance better displayed than on ‘Float Forever’, which builds from a stripped-down start, a slow, solitary electric guitar as Koisser soulfully commands us to “sit atop the Eiffel in your mind”, to ranging, anthemic riffs and crashing cymbals.

The band’s Britpop influences can’t be denied, and a criticism of In Love would be that it’s essentially just a product of what’s come before: Post-Post-Britpop with rehashed psychedelia thrown in for good measure. But through this they manage to evoke nostalgia for a time when they weren’t even old enough to appreciate music (and I wasn’t even alive!), which has got to count for something. Peace sound a bit like Blur, act a bit like Marilyn Manson (Douglas Castle once stumbled into me in a nightclub shouting “Where are the fucking toilets?”) and feel a bit like it’s 1969, man.