Since the release of EP Delicious back in 2012, Peace seem to have been unable to do any wrong. With increasing amounts of media coverage and ever-growing crowds, the Birmingham group’s rise to the top has been near unavoidable. Now, to much hype and anticipation, the poster boys of indie-rock are releasing their second album. The follow up to 2013’s In Love, Happy People is a thriving contradiction.
Behind the glowing artwork and heartening title, entwining with buoyant riffs and bounding refrains, Happy People is strife with insecurity and a yearning for perfection. Optimism and self-doubt bleed together through the lyrics. “Maybe it’s me that’s changed,” Harrison Koisser mulls in opening track ‘O You,’ before launching into the chorus refrain of, “I’m just trying to make it better.” Indeed, a lot has changed in the band since they released their debut two years ago. With this record, Peace are showcasing a more mature sound and a firmer sense of who they are, incorporating warts-and-all as a part of their charm.
Coupling anxious lyrics with infectiously chiming refrains creates an unusual attraction. Tightly performed and perfectly polished, the songs on this album are crafted with the same coveted appeal that echoes in the topics flooding their words. Live favourite ‘Gen Strange’ is filled with envious motifs (“How do you it so good?”), whilst token lighters-in-the-air ballad ‘Someday’ will be tugging on heartstrings as Koisser delicately croons, “I hope someday you find someone to love.” ‘Perfect Skin’ serves as a bubbling ode to unblemished aspiration (“If I had perfect skin would I feel pure within?”), and contrasts perfectly with previous single ‘Money,’ which resounds with disillusion of ambition (“All I want is everything but settling”).
But that’s not to say Happy People is all doom and gloom. Throughout the record, Peace string together their songs with delicious grooves and driving rhythms, lifting the tracks out of disesteem and into the danceable. Closing track ‘World Pleasure’ sees the group take on some uncharacteristic (but entirely endearing) rapping. “It’s not my mess, I’m too good looking” Koisser drawls, before the song ripens into the most wonderfully self-indulgent instrumental. ‘I’m A Girl’ is the album at its most raucous. The track’s half-shouted refrains and squalling guitar riffs are angst-driven and entirely satisfying, dwarfing everything in their wake. ‘Lost On Me’ sees the group incorporate a funk-infused bassline into a mix of boundless energy that it’s impossible not to catch on to. ‘Money’ contains the band’s most overpowering grooves yet, and the sparkling riffs in ‘O You’ are purpose built to spellbind.
Happy People is an album in juxtaposition. Boasting whilst remaining in suspense, the whole record seems at odds. But for the thirty-seven minutes it lasts, that doesn’t matter. Happy People makes no bones about itself. Honest and open, it’s the sound of a band who know who they are, contradictions and all, and have poured that into the essence of what they do.
Happy People is released on 9th February via Sony Music.