On Monday, February 9, a band you have probably never heard of released an album you probably won’t ever hear, and it’s probably one of the best indie albums of the year. Even though the year is young, Peace, an English band formed in 2009, has thoroughly impressed me with their second full-length album, Happy People. With this sophomore album, Peace promised to continue to experiment with their music and they have delivered a superb record. Happy People consists of 18 tracks ranging from mid-tempo ballads with soft vocals to faster, more typical indie rock sounding songs with simple backing tracks and clever harmonies.
There is no denying that Peace produced this album with the current generation of music listeners in mind. With the upheaval of pop music in the past few years, many listeners have turned to indie rock and its signature sound and Peace has used this to their advantage. With more emotional and striking lyrics as compared to their previous album, such as in the song “I’m a Girl” in which they reject classic gender stereotypes, Peace reminds me of some older bands with a similar sound, complete with the shaded glasses, loud sweaters, and high cut pants. Peace has crafted their own style for this time period and it seems to have massively simplified things for their second album.
The album itself runs relatively smoothly with a few bumps and jumps along the way. The opening track, “O You”, plays it safe with a fast paced melody that doesn’t really move anywhere and has few surprises, leaving little impression. However, the next stretch of songs revived my faith in the album. “Gen Strange” combines angst, euphoria, and some harsh self-reflection that truly encapsulates the album’s feel. The title song, “Happy People”, is one of the most experimental songs on the album and captures the new vibe and sound the band seems to be aiming for. The song pairs plenty of reverb on the vocals and the guitar, a quick tempo and melancholy lyrics to achieve a lively track. Other standout songs on the album include the big anthem, “Money” and other tracks that slow down the pace and add a mellower side to the album such as “Imaginary”, “Blue”, and “Under the Moon.” Some of the shortcomings of the album include occasional meaningless or superposition of self-conscious lyrics on otherwise cheerful songs, leading to a distracting, but perhaps intentional, disconnect. Overall, the album wraps up with a more upbeat, groovy sound with several smoother, fuller songs added intermittently to round out the album’s tone.
With their previous album, Peace has already contributed plenty to the ever expanding, ever changing world of indie. However, Happy People has allowed Peace to continue to develop and design their sound for today’s young audience. Packed with emotion, unique guitar riffs, and buoyant bass lines, Peace’s second full album has fulfilled and exceeded all expectations I had for their new release. I look forward to their next album, but until then I will continue to replay and enjoy this great album.