Peggy Sue – 'Choir of Echoes' album review

On an album about voices, the folk-pop trio ditch twee and find a sound that's distinctly their own



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Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5

Peggy Sue have a thing about voices. The Brighton trio describe their fourth LP, ‘Choir of Echoes’, as ‘an album about singing. About losing your voice and finding it again. Voices keeping each other company and voices competing for space… Choruses. Duets. Whispers and shouts.’ As wistful and airy-fairy as this all sounds, it makes a spot-on kind of sense as the 13 songs on ‘Choir of Echoes’ unfold.

Peggy Sue’s two vocalists, Rosa Slade and Katy Young, have always made their impeccable harmonies central to the band’s identity. Since the group’s early days, when they were called Peggy Sue And The Pirates and supported Mumford & Sons, Slade and Young have displayed a deft ability to marry their voices in a unique way that allows each to shine and both to blend. What they have chosen to sacrifice along the way are any of the lingering hints of twee that came with their old seafaring suffix.

Often losing out in comparisons to label-mates First Aid Kit, Peggy Sue have come closest to carving out their own niche on this fourth attempt, by adding some sour to the sweet. The folkiest number on ‘Choir of Echoes’, ‘How Heavy the Quiet Between Your Mouth and Mine’, offers up sweet vocals that bely the dark place where the lyrics go: ‘We filled it with words in the hope that we could drown it out / But it was too loud.’. The group’s stint touring with Jack White can be heard in the blues-influenced first single, ‘Idle’, with its mantra-like opening – ‘Let the devil make work for my idle hands’ – which wouldn’t sound out of place bellowed by a gospel choir.

Elsewhere on the album, both the sound and sentiment are deliciously dark and distinct. ‘Longest Day of the Year Blues’ revels in misery, filled with wonderfully forlorn ‘oooh’s and ‘aaah’s, and on closing track ‘The Error Of Your Ways’, rumbling drums rugby-tackle the singers’ dulcet tones. An album obsessed with voices may prove to be the turning point where Peggy Sue found their very own.

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