Perhaps guilty of achieving without ambition, Peace’s latest effort is more continuation than innovation. Although peppered with catchy moments, such as “World Pleasure” and “I’m a Girl”, the album blends into its own forgetful, tranquilized haze. Happy People will not upset diehard fans, radio listeners or the charts.
With its longing, anxious lyrics, “Perfect Skin” is the standout moment on the album. Although maybe Harry Koisser (vocals, guitar) gives away too much in crooning about wanting “less of me in me, and more of you in me” and “let me be as gorgeous, as stylish, as rich” – this is an album that seems obsessed with aspiration.
You might hear Oasis ringing through in “Someday”, and then elsewhere a Cardigans-style riff pours out of the speaker cone as “Flirting USA” comes on or echoes of Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing” in “The Music Was To Blame”.
Happy People feels instantly familiar, something which has led The Guardian to describe the album as “vanilla indie designed by committee” – whilst a scathing and needlessly cynical assessment, one cannot help but feel it apt. Happy People feels eerily like a compilation album, a showcase rather than an envelope-pushing performance.
Dom Boyce (drums) and Sam Kossier (bass) consistently carry whole tracks, with “Under The Moon” the best example of their marriage. Doug Castle’s guitar work does not tend to stand out from the mix, but in the moments when it cuts through the mix his riffs are instantly memorable. Although there’s no suggesting that any of the musicianship is particularly outstanding or ground-breaking, in an album that lacks direction it feels like Peace, helped by wonderful production, at least knew the sound they were after.
The album is a success: it continues happily along the trajectory set by In Love and whilst it fails to escape the orbit of radio-friendly, vanilla indie, it is nevertheless a great effort. Although it is difficult to put your finger on it, Peace’s Happy People feels like an amalgamation of indie’s heritage rather than something that is bringing anything new to the conversation.