Sometimes, love is sweeter with the sharpness of its flip-side exposed. So it is with the fourth album from London duo Peggy Sue. Vices, as the title suggests, is about love, addiction to human interaction, how to move on after a relationship, and navigating all of the difficult spaces in-between. There is an unadorned emotional honesty to the album, it’s a kind of heart-on-its-sleeve, heart-on-the-line rawness.
A simple strummed acoustic guitar and tambourine heralds the opening track I Wanna Be Your Girl. Katy Young and Rosa Slade’s harmonies are absolutely glorious, they soar even when the lyrics suggest heavy blows. In Dreams swoons with early sixties jukebox romanticism.
The whole album invokes a kind of yearning for a time that never was; while knowing full well that a rose-tinted past only ever seems to turn up in old rock ‘n’ roll movies- even Graham Greene had a flick knife or two tucked into the chapters of his novels. But that is not to say that the music is in any way twee or too mired in retro stylings; rather, the modern sheen locates it in the here and now, even if the songs dip a Winklepicker into classic songwriting.
Hurt stalks the corners. The exquisite title track, with its Ronettes stop-start drums links falling in love with bad habits: ‘too much of anything’, the pair sigh, ‘only leaves you wanting more’. It’s love as sickness, a fever. Pared-back guitars lurk like ghosts in an empty fairground. Even Motorcade, with its deceptively upbeat twangy pop sound, has a relationship curdling under its driving rhythm. ‘You always look so good from far away’, they sing. Remainder Blues is the most stripped-back song, and is all the more affecting and gorgeous for it, whereas the sardonic Validate Me is fuzzier, like a female take on Jesus And Mary Chain when they were still interesting. The girls can’t help it- perfect, moving and effortless pop with a sting in the tail.
Out via French Exit on February 21st.