Disappointingly average: rather than play to their strengths of neat and simple, yet delightful little musical tricks, Peace seem to have aimed for a broader and yet ultimately blander sound.
Having just listened to Peace’s new album, Happy People for around the third time, I’m struck by how little an impact it’s made. Granted, final track ‘World Pleasure’ still rings in my ears, which is probably the best sound to take away from all this. In what appears to be an unfortunate mire of mostly forgettable songs, ‘World Pleasure’ stands out as the cheeky, funky Pet Shop Boys tribute I’ve always wanted from Peace.
Happy People, the follow-up to the band’s successful 2013 debut In Love, has a promising start. ‘O You’ shines with Peace’s distinctly buoyant and refreshing style. The indie-rock quartet feels right at home when producing exuberant, reggae imbued numbers like this opener. However, the following track ‘Gen-strange’ feels cluttered and laborious by comparison; things just don’t flow like they’re supposed to.
Previously released single ‘Lost on Me’ does bring things back for a moment, with its gorgeous opening, minimalist verses and pleasantly funky tone; yet Happy People seems to struggle from here on out. ‘Perfect Skin’ is positively riddled with lyrical clichés and messy production, and title track ‘Happy People’ suffers from gimmicky guitar distortions and vague messages about love. By the time I got to ‘Someday’ my eyelids were drooping.
A major problem here seems to be a lack of focus. What made Peace so alluring were their precise yet energetic melodies, and playful creative lyrics. Yet now the band appear to be suffering from a case of either ‘difficult second-album syndrome’ or ‘trying too hard but ultimately failing-itus’. In Love made Peace sound naturally brilliant, while Happy People makes them sound sadly flat.
There are glimmers of hope however: the record’s other single ‘Money’ injects Happy People with some much needed energy, along with ‘I am a Girl’, although both suffer from cringe-inducing lyrics and sloppy production.
Overall, Happy People feels rushed. Perhaps the pressure of new-found stardom weighed far too heavily upon Harry and co.’s shoulders – or maybe two years just wasn’t enough time for Peace to reach their full creative potential. Whatever the reasons, rather than play to their strengths of neat and simple, yet delightful little musical tricks, Peace seem to have aimed for a broader and ultimately blander sound, much to my disappointment.
Happy People was released on 9th February 2015 via Columbia Records.