Review: PEACE

COSMO GODFREE sees a great band poised on the edge – but are they capable of taking the leap?

Binary Finary Birmingham California Daze Columbia Records Foals gig review Indie jaws Mystery Jets NME Oasis Peace portland arms Swim Deep West Midlands Wolf Alice

First off, I’d hate to write this review without mentioning the excellent support band, Wolf Alice, who do a wonderful job of finding the missing link between Dinosaur Jr. and Hole. The last song of their set is a delicious throwback to the days of Geffen-era Sonic Youth, as singer Ellie’s voice drifts above the chaos.

A great surprise then, but inevitably the room gets more packed out by the time PEACE make their way onto the stage. Signed to Columbia and cresting the wave of the West Midlands ‘B-town’ scene that certain music weeklies have thrown their weight behind (see also: Swim Deep and Jaws), PEACE are poised to flood the charts with decent guitar music for the first time in a while.

‘California Daze’ is majestic, one of a handful of great pop songs from the last year that relies on patience rather than insistency. I could listen to that chorus go on forever. That is, at least, until it blossoms into a beautiful coda. Surely one of the best singles of the year.

If ‘California Daze’ is reclining on a beach at sunset while sipping cocktails, then ‘Bloodshake’ is a full-on tropical rave, getting one of the best crowd reactions of the night. Equal parts Foals and Mystery Jets, it’s not particularly original, but it contains another massive chorus.

The shoegaze-lite textures of ‘Follow Baby’ go some way towards smoke-screening the fact that the chorus comes dangerously close to ripping off Oasis. Once again though, it’s impossible to deny its impact, and this speaks a lot to their mainstream crossover appeal. While you’d be hard pushed to call them experimental, they do a fantastic job of subverting classic song structures with more esoteric elements, and so avoid falling into the trap of becoming the next boringly predictable NME-darlings.

The main problem is that the set is disappointingly short, and a fair amount of it is taken up by their admittedly wonderful extensive and extended reworking of the dance anthem ‘Binary Finary’. Also, despite how great a couple of these songs are, I can’t help feeling that PEACE are holding something back in their live performance. The atmosphere in the crowd is pretty lively throughout, but given the sense of excitement and anticipation before the band had come on, I think they had the potential to blow the roof off.

I’ve seen PEACE play better shows than this, so I know what they’re capable of. It just leaves me worrying whether they’re ready to make the jump towards bigger stages that they seem to be rushing towards all too soon. The promise they have shown is considerable, and for once the hype surrounding their upcoming debut album might actually be justified. Let’s hope they can translate it to the stage next time.