The followup to Social Season from Late Cambrian is one that I’ve been eagerly awaiting for a long while, I’ve been finally able to find a spare few hours to sit down, listen and write about Peach.
If you love uplifting rock and haven’t heard of Late Cambrian before then don’t deprive yourself of this record, they’re a Brooklyn, New York based pop-rock band with an indy vibe and vocal style and accents that wouldn’t be out of place in a festival of indy bands from Southern England, but Late Cambrian have this amazingly ability to wander into more prog-rock or post-rock territory with tracks like “Made For Love” and “Resolution”, however, Late Cambrian aren’t like other pop-rock bands, they definitely have a unique sound and a real fusion of genre roots that they make best use of yet on Peach.
Inventively melodic guitar and stunning vocal harmonies accompany intelligent lyrics in a way that rivals the likes of Biffy Clyro, quite the contrast to to the bulk of the bands in this genre currently who are pandering to Tumblr-adoring tweens, these harmonies reminded me of a more mature and overall more musical COIL, some of the guitar and vocals particularly reminding me of “Soft Machine” by COIL in parts, a band I was very fond of since the early 2000s after having heard their music on the Gitaroo-Man soundtrack. There’s just so much to say about Peach, it’s one of those special albums you really need to hear to have any idea of what it is like, but I’ve written some thoughts throughout my first listen through it, there’s a reason it is called Peach in my opinion; it really is a juice album with a lot of sweet content.
After commercial pop-rock’s recent chart decline with a recent spat of mediocre and over-produced albums, hearing John Wlaysewski’s distinct soaring vocals open the album with a track called “Lover’s Point” are a sweet reminder that the genre still has so much more left to give if people are willing to develop their own sound and not shamelessly rip off everybody around them, John is one amazing lyricist as well as an amazing vocalist and instrumentalist. The guitar and drums are expressive and work brilliantly to convey the feelings of falling in love, especially that bassline getting you right in the stomach accompanied by tense drum fills.
Showering your ears with punchy guitar and big drums, “The Label Needed A Single” is slightly reminiscent of “Sell Out” by Reel Big Fish with a lyrical overview of the record industry with great vocals and almost ska-punk style rhythms and melodies, if you’re a music artist then this is a track that you’ll be able to relate to. There’s an amusing line of “I learned soon enough, if the chorus has a well placed ‘oh eh oh’ everybody at the local bar you know, they can join you on the ‘eh oh’,” which for me summarises Peach as a whole with the vocal flourishes throughout it.
“The Year I Cut The Cable” features energetic percussion and excitingly melodic yet strong vocals high up in the mix from both John and O (Olive Hsu) reminiscing about school days and passing love notes in class, but O’s vocals really shine on “The Wolf”, both John and O have amazingly complimentary voices which both lie in different registers, this song has spacious drums and guitar that venture between two quite distinct sounds, somewhere between surf-punk and prog-rock. “Patience On A Monument” is an easy groove with loose drums and guitar with rousing vocals.
“Made For Love” is a song about wanting a second chance after a breakup with a self-referencing line of the song itself with desperate-yet-hopeful vocal and smooth solid group vocals, this is also easily the most experimental track on the whole of Peach, Tracy Bonham’s violin really makes this track very classy with an almost orchestral quality in that section reminding me somewhat of The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony”. There is a hauntingly uplifting Ebow section towards the latter part of the song. The Ebow is a very uncommon thing to hear on songs, but Kevin Salem makes much nicer use of the Ebow than on Nine Inch Nails’ “La Mer” which was previously my favourite use of it with a guitar. “Made For Love” is very adventurous, I particularly like the stutter edit in the bridge section as well as a very contrasting noisy distorted scream-like sound one-shot that works very nicely alongside the highly melodic instrumentation, I would love to see Late Cambrian venture into this semi-chaotic yet controlled sound some more.
The bouncy drums of “Ryan Gosling” are sure to get you dancing with the intro and foot-stomping fusion of guitar and drums in the chorus. John’s distinct vocal style is really shown in this song, definitely a great choice for a music video. The xylophone solo following the guitar solo is truly unexpected yet fits beautifully into the song, just as unexpected as the Ebow on “Made For Love”, rock music as a whole needs more tasteful use of xylophones just as Late Cambrian is showcasing, these things are either done in a great way or terrible way, Late Cambrian are showing how to do it the right way!
“Poetry” is a loose and soulful acoustic guitar driven track, it’s probably my second favourite track on the whole album in fact, a truly unexpected minimalist gem, but the simplistic and honest lyrics and harmonised vocals make this a really great song.
I must admit, any track with claps in it tends to be special and has a certain place in my heart, “Resolution” is no exception to that rule with a simple clap accompanying the wandering synths and bass guitar punctuating this seminal track in an almost trance-like way. The song is about a New Year’s party and taking a chance on having what you want in life, the chanted New Year’s countdown is an atmospheric addition and slightly reminiscent of the one in The Wolf.
There’s a great unexpected moment in “Recipe” in which John hesitates and follows up with a “fuck it”, it adds a lot of character to the track. The military style drumming and vocals evoke a vibe similar to that of My Chemical Romance’s “The Black Parade” minus the overly emotional lyrics and guyliner. “Recipe” is one of these tracks that you never want to end, and the faded outro is one of my favourite ways of ending a song as it suggests that the song goes on even if the track doesn’t.
“Flowers From Anonymous” is truly my favourite track on the album with an addictively great organ tucked into the mix, storytelling lyrics about a non-reciprocated love told by ever-so melodic vocals from John who is accompanied marvelously by the backing vocals from Nunzio Moudatsos. The tempo change and solid bassline followed by yet more soaring vocal flourishes make this track a real toe-tapper. “Hypgnotica/Afternoon Special” is a brilliant instrumental with a solid mix between acoustic guitar, electric guitar and a classic bassline with harmonic vocals gently carrying this track along with the synth melody.
“The Luddite” is a cleverly written track featuring my friends Brendan B. Brown and Gabrielle Sterbenz of Wheatus performing some lead and background guest vocals, with great lines such as “Be careful what you wish to see, you will regret what you ask if your reach exceeds your grasp.”, you just can’t help but love this track, as always, BBB and Gabrielle deliver a wonderful performance . This is a wonderful way to finish off an album that leaves me looking forward to seeing where Late Cambrian go next with their music, it also leaves me eagerly anticipating what the next Wheatus album will be like.
A quick glance over the thanks section of the album credits revealed my name, always a way to make me smile, thank you for creating a great album. Shortly after reading the credits I reloaded the album for a second playthrough, this is one of those albums that much like Nine Inch Nails’ The Fragile, will always be a great album as it was written outside of the current trends in music, that second playthrough soon became a third.
Late Cambrian’s latest offering is a highly original and memorable record, mixed and mastered brilliantly to boot, I heard the album mixdown beforehand and that mastering really is the icing on the cake of an already wonderful record, those drums, guitars and vocals are outstandingly crisp with no muddiness. Peach isn’t just an album that you’ll be taking everywhere with you on your phone or laptop, but also an album you’ll be slamming in the car, as with Social Season, it just so happens that Peach is one of the musical highlights of the year for so many reasons, especially the variety of tracks going between skillfully executed melodies to loose minimal melodies and rhythms, but elating vocals throughout, this is most definitely the soundtrack to your Summer.