Peace is here to make the listener feel good.
latest release, Kindness Is The New Rock and Roll
, their third studio album
to date, is a confusing one. With it, the band
has an album that seeks largely to affirm, encourage, and uplift, but momentarily sinks into the depths of living with mental health issues. Itâs an album that is almost entirely, uncynically, keen and positive. Peaceâs members arenât here necessarily to craft works of art or play with their audience; theyâre here to make the listener feel good. But there is a dark underbelly that reveals itself.
Album opener âPowerâ is a self-affirming, self-esteem-boosting, own-your-life song with a chorus of âI got the power/ I know it's true/ You got the power/ Yeah, I feel it in you.â The track manages to avoid going too far into sunny goodness, however, by fully embracing the cheese and backdating the sound of the song to a classic uplifting stadium rock track. It may not be lyrically tongue-in-cheek, but the self-awareness and borderline silliness and sarcasm make it more palatable. The follow-up, titular, track, âKindness Is The New Rock And Roll,â sadly fails to completely sidestep the potential rolled eyes with lyrics like âWe're all bones and skin/ With feelings underneath/ So let's make war on warâ that could well come across as jokey lyrics from other artists. At times, genuinely emotional lyrics on the album can sound humorous or like a parody, with the line separating them being very thin. âKindness...â comes a little too close to crossing it. When vocalist Harry Koisser asks, at the end, âPeace, do you know what I mean?â, itâs impossible to not wonder if such an off-handed, casual way of phrasing isnât in fact a joke.
Album closer âChoose Loveâ grapples most blatantly with the bandâs struggle to couple cheerful sentiment with lyrics that donât alienate the more cynical. Itâs the most peppy-sounding track on the album and contains the most barefaced attempt at a moral and message for the audience in the chorus: âChoose love, choose life, today, tonight/ No fear, no pain, no hate, no shame." It's also the only track to explicitly and directly comment on its own lyrical content; before the chorus Harry sings âAny idiot can sing it in a song, so I'll sing itâ. An acknowledgment of the simplicity of the song, and its message, and posits that just because a concept or lesson is simple doesnât mean it should be dismissed. Despite this, not enough is really done to move the message from clichÃ© into something worth pondering. Lyrical images are so clearly black and white/good and bad as to be generic and underwhelming (âour sandcastles fade in the desert windââ¦ âthe canary we got coughing in our coal mineâ). References to genuine concerns that the audience might have (social media â âI scream to make it better in a hundred forty lettersâ â and pollution â âAll's left is plastics where the whales live and singâ) are passed over quickly it ends with the underwhelming moral: âIn a world that can be so cruel, love is vitalâ. The chorused âchoose loveâ message behind the song gains no new meaning or relevance over the course of the trackâs four minutes, and the listener remains unconvinced that it is not a mere clichÃ©.
Despite the bandâs desire to increase positivity and create uplifting music, the best material on the album is when they explore the darker sides of humanity and themselves. Examples of this include the two middle-of-the-album tracks âFrom Under Liquid Glassâ and âMagnificent,â as well as the twisted ballad âAngelâ â the three of which are the stand out tracks on the album. âFrom Under Liquid Glass,â which was released in support of MQ Mental Health
, explores vocalist and songwriter Harryâs own battles with mental health issues. Speaking about the song he said: âAlthough this song is deeply personal, itâs really for everyone, as most people have had, come into contact with or will have some degree of mental health issue in their livesâ and the song is easily the most emotionally-impactful, and possibly, the best track on the record. Harry runs away with the melody to heights when he sings that âmy soul must be fedâ in the best vocal on the album, before explaining that he is âLying in my empty room on my broken bed/ And I'm left alone with my big fuckin' mental headâ. The lyrics pass from obscure to plain and back again as and when they most need to. While he may sing âThe camel's back is so close to broke/ Held together by a thread,â he follows it immediately with the heartbreakingly simple and illustrative âNobody home, no one to phone/ I'm scared to face the music alone/ In my big fuckin' mental head.â âMagnificentâ follows on from âFrom Under Liquid Glassâ with a look at the protagonistâs own self-view with some of the best bizarre lyrics: âItâs too loud, letâs escape town/ Everybody hates electronic music hereâ and âDon't print these lyrics on a T-shirt/ I am just a servant to your ear.â It also contains within it the least arrogant lyric in the world to liken the protagonist to a deity: âI wish I was everything that I'm cracked up to be/ You say I'm like heaven, everybody's lost belief/ Don't give up on me just yet.â And then thereâs âAngelâ which sits in a space incredibly close to Snow Patrolâs âChasing Carsâ. Similar in melody, quality of the voice singing, the choice of layered background textures, and the moody, bouncing, arpeggiated guitar line. The song breaks away from the restrained emotionally-tinged vocal style to a more open-throated expression of fear and worry as Harry sings: "All of my memories, melted and fading/ I'm terrified you'll burn/ Yeah, I worry/ /Yeah, I worry about my angel.â âAngel' is particularly strong for how it stays away from bombast. It would have been an easy song to turn up to 11, halfway through, but the consistency actually makes it all the more affecting.
Kindness Is The New Rock And Roll is an album of contradictions and considerations that perhaps needed more thought put into how enthusiasm can be presented most effectively in songs. Or perhaps it just needed more of the brilliant, sad songs that stand out. But then, by Peaceâs own standards (âPeace have always been an explosion of happinessâ), it wouldnât be a Peace album. Thereâs something that is both admirable and uniquely listenable about a band and album that struggles with its own identity (positive and uplifting or sad and affecting?) and decides to just present it all.
Watch the video for Peace - 'From Under Liquid Glass' below