Album review: Peace, In Love (Columbia)

ALBUM OF THE WEEK: Peace, love and a fine riposte to easy understanding

With any luck, 2013 will be the year that Peace breaks out all over. The Birmingham quartet's debut album bears out the promise of their early singles and Delicious EP, from which derives the album closer, “California Daze”, though sadly they've chosen not to include the EP's cover of the trance classic “1998”. Perhaps they were wary of confusing listeners too much, In Love being virtually impossible to pigeonhole as it is.

Peace's core values are indie guitar rock, but with myriad disparate influences. The grumbling chords of “Follow Baby” suggest a sort of British Nirvana, the concluding snarl of guitar noise furnishing a punky exclamation mark; but it's set alongside the euphoric rocker “Higher Than the Sun”, where guitars weave woozily in cyclical, Byrds-style arpeggios, as the verses resolve into a surging hook.

Elsewhere, the languid groove of “Waste of Paint” recalls the baggy heyday of Happy Mondays and Stone Roses. On “Lovesick”, the yoking of weary outsider cool with pop melodicism brings to mind The Cure's lighter moments: you can imagine a younger Robert Smith singing lines such as, “I just want to be a fool, get lovesick with you,” so adeptly does Harrison Koisser channel that 1980s strain of blithe adolescent alienation.

Koisser's an intriguing songwriter, bringing an innovative eye to the age- old business of love through quirky images like “her hair it bleeds and bleeds for you” and “she's such a wraith, a lady of the sword” – the latter illuminating “Wraith”, a slick confection of propulsive guitar and keening harmonies. But meaning isn't just confined to the words of “Toxic”. “You're like a poison, you linger in my lungs,” sings Koisser, but the sense of dizzy discomfiture is as powerfully conveyed by the way the guitars seem to sway and totter. Likewise, the lightness of spirit in “Float Forever” is evoked by the watery vibrato guitar that buoys the song along. Both are evidence of a keen musical imagination at work, reinvigorating tired indie modes with fresh ideas, images and sounds.

Download: Higher Than the Sun; Lovesick; Wraith; Float Forever; Toxic