“I hope you have the best New Year…I mean, you know, 2013…whatever,” are the words with which Peace singer Harrison Koisser sends us out into the brave new dawn of another year.
It’s hardly a call to the barricades. Maybe it’s nerves, but Koisser has nothing worth saying to a packed New Year’s Eve crowd at the north London home of Club NME and promising new indie music. Showmanship is confined to his glittering green, mirror-flecked jacket, a suit of lights undercut by white trainers and his bandmates’ T-shirts. He has the lips and curtain of hair of a young Richard Ashcroft, but none of the Verve singer’s gobby desire for transcendence.
Peace are one of the nominations in the BBC’s Sound of 2013 poll, an increasingly irritating marketing ploy shepherding media coverage towards mostly major-label backed new acts (Peace’s Delicious EP is on Columbia). They more often recall the sound of 1992, but that isn’t always a bad thing. “Is anybody in love?” Koisser asks at his most coherent. “You should be.” The EP’s best track, “California Daze” starts with languid, summery strokes of guitars, crests with decent harmonies, and grinds gently to a halt. The “pretty girls in town” Koisser cheers himself up by watching in its verses are likely from the band’s Birmingham home, not a West Coast idyll. It’s the sort of well-crafted, bittersweet single early 1990s bands Buffalo Tom and Teenage Fanclub specialised in. “Follow Baby”’s Nirvana riffs give a heavier nod to the part of the past they’re raiding most.
“Our New Year’s resolution is more drugs” goes another Koisser bon mot, and their songs are mostly poppy neo-psychedelia. “1998”, a cover of a much-revived hit by 1990s British trance act Binary Finary, has drummer Dom Boyce bouncing sticks off his kit as he hammers a four-to-the-floor beat. As its long, slow, bucking instrumental break continues, a male fan unwisely stands on shoulders to dance. As the song subsides, Koisser is crouched fiddling with effects pedals, while his bassist brother Sam literally shoegazes. That’s the unloved 1990s genre Peace, like last year’s hype Toy, draw deepest from. They raise themselves for “Bloodshake”’s big finish just after 1 am, a last chance to mosh. Boyce grins unaffectedly at the crowd’s response, as the curtain falls. This year, we’ll see if Peace deserve their chance.