London-based duo Peggy Sue’s latest album - and their first release since 2014 - is a labour of love that narrates bittersweet tales of love and distraction with a deceptively sugary soundscape and irresistible harmonies.
The 10-track story draws on understated ‘60s pop - all doop-wop stylings and surf guitars - and on '90s acts who put their own spin on that pared back sound, such as Blur and The Breeders. Opening with the soft instrumentals, and even softer vocals, of ‘I Wanna Be Your Girl’, Peggy Sue immediately draw the listener in, before following with a tinge of mysticism on ‘In Dreams’- an early highlight. Next comes title track ‘Vices’, which continues on a similar vein as its predecessor - a jarringly foreboding lullaby playing out as drawling vocals capture the imagination.
Next up is lead single ‘Motorcade’, one of the strongest offerings here in terms of production as the track. Written in a post-breakup relief, the track perfectly bottles that very human feeling. Starting off slow and soothing, it gets builds in both speed and sonics, snapping into a sudden burst of energy.
It’s fitting that Peggy Sue’s album best comes immediately after this energetic release, in the form of ‘Souvenirs’. A slightly off-kilter track where the husky vocals mismatch and stand out from a guitar-led soundscape, it’s the perfect representation of the band’s music - bringing together light and dark, vulnerabilities and optimism, as if these contrasts were always meant to be.
Past the halfway point comes the sunny ‘Better Days’, an apt name for the upbeat track before the raw, genuine ‘Validate Me’ makes a strong case for a personal highlight. But the battle of favourites is won by ‘Slow Fade’ an electro-tinged feel-good track that begs for a carefree, slow dance as the end of ‘Vices’ approaches.
The self-assured beginning of penultimate track ‘Remainder Blues’ indicates a strong end as the impactful simplicity of Peggy Sue’s lyricism is resolutely put centre stage, before anthemic beats are unexpectedly dropped into the mix, building a brilliant presence that lasts even as the final notes play out.
Forged at the intersection between positive and negative, romances and crumbling relationships, ‘Vices’ is a celebratory collection of a real-life instances represented in song - and it is as perfectly imperfect as real life itself.
Words: Malvika Padin
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