It felt like a breath of fresh air when Birmingham indie rockers Peace first emerged on the scene back in 2012. Killer tracks Bloodshake, Lovesick and Follow Baby ensured that they became mainstays on indie dancefloors and festival stages the world over. Now, following a 2014 which saw them gradually tease new music, the Harrison Koisser-fronted quartet have released their second album, Happy People. Read on for a full album review.
The album opens with O You’s jangly guitar strums, which morph into a summery, string-backed anthem. “Maybe it’s me that’s changed” vocalizes Koisser over a mix of laid-back instrumentation before claiming in the chorus that he’s “trying to change the world that we live in”. It’s a chilled-out affair, something which Gen Strange slightly builds on with a tick-tock intro and catchy melody backing Kossier in the first verse. “How do you do it so good?” he asks during the chorus, a question which we also end up asking the band later on. Gen Strange is the first instance of danceable funk elements on Happy People, before Lost on Me goes full-on Indie Disco on us all. Probably more known for its great video, Lost on Me is powered by a pulsating bassline and handclap beats which precede an anthemic chorus well-suited to any festival main stage or tent around the world.
Perfect Skin goes on to see Koisser proclaim “you’re so clever, I’m so dumb” over a mellow keyboard melody and upbeat bassline, giving it an extremely summery feeling. Its chorus, which sees the eclectic frontman sing of how he wants perfect skin, is one of the catchiest on the album and may even be a potential indie anthem. This is what Peace are here for though, right? Happy People is filled with anthemic moments, something which title track Happy People yet again reaffirms in its beautifully melancholic sounding melody line. It has electronic sounding elements which perfectly complement the rest of the band (guitarist Douglas Castle, bassist Samuel Koisser and drummer Dominic Boyce). “Oh you happy people, where’d you go?” asks Koisser, before Someday starts off rather demure, slowly building up over its course by means of a haunting melody line. It doesn’t go much further than that, though, which is a shame as Koisser’s vocals (and lyrics) on this track are brilliant. 2014 single Money follows, showcasing another top class anthem which Peace have to their name. “Welcome to a world where bitcoins pay for beatings and diamonds pay for girls” sneers Koisser, before adding “Money, do you eat it when you’re hungry?” ahead of a catchy riff and grooving bassline. Bassist Samuel Koisser is a great bassist, something we hear more so on Happy People than on their self-titled debut.
As we approach the end of the album, I’m A Girl briefly takes us down the grunge road by means of a grisly intro and messy attitude which is most common in its stop-start structure. “If we’re living in a man’s world, I’m a girl” sings Koisser in a song which is filled with references to being a girl. In fact, the topic of being a woman is present furthermore throughout Happy People, particularly in Perfect Skin. Penultimate track Under the Moon is the second of only two proper ballads on the album, progressing nicely in a rather simplified manner. It’s not one of the most memorable songs on the album, something which World Pleasure, on the other hand, is. World Pleasure was the first song Peace released for this album campaign, opening with a funky bassline, catchy riff and Harrison Koisser’s first attempt at rapping on a song. World Pleasure is by far the best song on the album, with its bass solo and swirling strings eventually climaxing in a Stone Roses-esque freakout.
Happy People may, at ten songs, be slightly on the short side, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction for Peace. People always talk about the “difficult second album”, yet Peace have taken their time to fine-tune the album and this hard work has definitely paid off.