Vancouver based indie band Peach Pit normalizes individuality with their unique sound in their very impressive debut LP.
So, I’d first like to preface this review with a warning of possible extreme personal bias. I first discovered Peach Pit in the fall of 2016 through a recommendation on YouTube; and I instantly fell in love with this band. Their first release, an EP named Sweet FA, introduced the world to their uniquely jangly, carefree brand of indie rock. Their sound could best be described as complexly simplistic. Peter Wilton and Mikey Pascuzzi provide a solid bass and drum rhythm foundation, while Chris Vanderkooy channels Johnny Marr in his beautifully jangly guitar leads. This is all topped off with the soft singing Neil Smith, providing a reliable source of calmness throughout even the most upbeat of their songs. The personal bias I have will not cause me to review Being So Normal more favorably; contrarily, I will have higher expectations for it. Luckily they met all expectations.
Being So Normal begins in familiar territory with the track “Drop The Guillotine”.
This aggressively upbeat track about a close friend stealing the crush of the narrator first appeared on Sweet FA, but in an entirely different form. Originally, this track was a slow keyboard driven ballad. They replaced the generic electronic drum track with a vibrant rhythm section, sped up the tempo, and replaced the keyboard with beautiful guitar leads. They turned my least favorite track of Sweet FA into one of the many highlights of Being So Normal.
The titular track diverts from this direction with a dark, laid-back vibe. The rhythm has a lazy, behind the beat feel; juxtaposed with a muffled, frantic lead guitar. The track, about a breakup with an ex-girlfriend, slowly builds up into a fuzzed out guitar solo at the end; symbolizing the the narrator’s internal anger, confusion, or frustration with the situation. This is perfectly juxtaposed with the calm and seemingly uninterested delivery of the lyrics by Neil.
Tracks like “Alrighty Aphrodite” and “Not Me” continue the sound palette produced in the first two tracks.
“Alrighty Aphrodite” opens with this very dark and mysterious instrumental track. Much like “Being So Normal”, the song is about an ex-lover who seemed to waste the time of the narrator. The song starts quiet, but continues to build until the electrifying guitar solo towards the end of the track.
“Not Me” is a song about the narrator’s obsession with his crush, and the depression that this unhealthy obsession causes. This is reflected through the instrumental track with the use of syncopation by the guitar during the verses, paired with a chaotic sounding chorus.
Peach Pit explores the genre of dream-pop with tracks like “Techno Show” and “Chagu’s Sideturn”.
Personally, I think these two tracks are the weakest tracks on the album. That being said, these are not bad tracks; they are just the most generic sounding of all the tracks on the album. They also don’t seem to fit with the rest of the album. The bright, upbeat tracks are also placed in between some of the darkest tracks on the album, which causes a clash of vibes around these tracks.
Peach Pit goes in a different, quieter direction for tracks 7 through 9.
Peach Pit produced two very stripped down tracks with “Hot Knifer” and “Tommy’s Party”, very reminiscent of Arctic Monkey’s “Only Ones Who Know” and “Riot Van”. Both songs explore the theme of loneliness, reflected perfectly in the reverb filled instrumental tracks. Hot Knifer is about the narrator reminiscing about a former lover that he misses, while “Tommy’s Party” is a conversation between Neil and his friend Tommy, from Tommy’s perspective after the party.
“Private Presley” is a song that starts off with a lone guitar arpeggiating on a memorizing chord progression. The track then slowly starts to builds up, adding in the rest of the band and stringed instruments, culminating in a spectacular ending guitar solo.
This was a great debut EP for Peach Pit.
Being So Normal is a bit of a shift in direction from their laid-back and carefree sound introduced in Sweet FA. They expanded their style in every direction. They were more aggressive, melancholic, bombastic, and stripped down in this album. There are very few ways this album could have been a better foundational debut LP for Peach Pit. If there is one album by an indie artist this year that I wish everyone would check out, this is it.
Best Tracks: Drop The Guillotine, Being So Normal, Alrighty Aphrodite, Not Me, and Tommy’s Party
Worst Track: Chagu’s Sideturn