Some so-called psychobilly bands just aren’t really psychobilly.
Sadly split-up Clash fans The Grit and up-and-coming Clash fans The Zipheads spring to mind. The Peacocks attract a predominately psychobilly/rockabilly crowd but musically they lean more to punk, new wave and indie.
Their last album, After All was constantly on my CD player and was one of the few in my collection that I could get away with playing to all of my friends without it being forcibly removed from the stereo; the perfect party album if you like. The band has to my mind, never quite nailed it live, but they always seem to be on the verge.
New album Don’t Ask opens in an energetic frenzy with the radio friendly ‘What I Want’ comprising drawed/muted indie-style vocals, punk drumming and petulant lyrics. Perhaps a mission statement?
Several of the tracks would not have been out of place on the previous album, such as the boppy ‘All I’ve Got is What You See’; the pleasantly jangly ‘How Long?’, and the hillbilly pop tune ‘The Long Way Home’, but there is a shift away from the rockabilly side of their earlier work towards the mainstream, catering more than ever before to Reading Festival teenagers in Green Day t-shirts. This may indeed be the album that launches them headfirst into cider-drinking, sweaty audiences bouncing up and down to those fast beats and power pop choruses that invade your brain and refuse to leave.
It can’t be denied that most of the song structures are pretty formulaic – you can almost always tell when a bridge with a chord change and backing vocals is coming, or when the drums are about to crescendo. And there are a lot of drum crescendos. But you also can’t deny that they know how to make the most of the formula. There is little here that is truly original and one might hazard a guess that the playlists on their i-pods include The Buzzcocks, The Clash, The Stranglers, Green Day, Dr Feelgood and The Strokes. There is even an opening line that paraphrases ‘Sweet Dreams (are made of this)’ by Eurythmics.
The vocals on the chuggy ‘Need A Break’ sound like Pete Shelley after forty Bensons and the chord progression in the introduction to ‘How Did They Do That?’ sounds suspiciously similar to ‘Autonomy by The Buzzcocks (the chorus is reminiscent of Oasis). Well, Oasis with a slap bass. ‘It’s All a Lot of Bollocks’ is fairly nondescript and adolescent, a verse with the vocal melody of ‘Don’t Fear The Reaper’ by Blue Oyster Cult followed by a stadium sing-along chorus. When they ask, “What’s the point?” I was tempted to wonder too. ‘The Girl’s in Trouble and the Boy’s in Panic’ has an interesting stripped-down start with heavy toms and reverbed vocals, but settles into a disappointingly predictable chorus.
[box] When they ask, “What’s the point?” I was tempted to wonder too[/box]
Lyrically The Peacocks have always favoured relationship issues over tales of zombies or punk politics. I dread to think what was happening in their personal lives while they were writing ‘After All’ – those lyrics are, shall we say, harsh.
‘Don’t Ask’ shares this bleak anger and cynicism at times, but overall there is a more optimistic feel going on with some moments of warmth, most notably on ‘With You’, a rare uplifting romantic song of having met “the one” (a song that wouldn’t be out of place on a soundtrack to an American high school movie). In fact, the entire album with its tales of awkward crushes and mood swings from existential angst to hormonal joy would make a suitable soundtrack for such a film, with power pop number ‘Up and Down’ best reflecting the bi-polar nature of their material.
[box] smudged eyeliner and bruised legs[/box]
Adrenaline-soaked punk tune ‘Nothing Left to Sing’ is a particular highlight and if it doesn’t make you launch yourself into the pit with scant regard for your own safety and emerge a few minutes later with smudged eyeliner and bruised legs, then frankly there’s no hope for you.
Similarly ‘Re-hash Boogie’ is a two-minute blast of fury, starting with a rockabilly-style verse then morphing into a driving moshpit chorus with heavy slap bass and drums, although if I were them I may have steered away from any references to rehashing.
Another stand out track is ‘Don’t Pretend to Care When You Don’t’ with a bouncy country rhythm and catchy chorus with heartfelt words. By the time the album ended on ‘I Shouldn’t Bring Up What I Can’t Put Down’ I was bouncing around the room.
Curiously, as they get older The Peacocks seem to mutate into a band that will appeal to a younger audience. The music may not be breaking any musical boundaries, but they retain their youthful anger and energy; lyrics that can break hearts and beats that can break bones.
Stay in the pit; stay sick on snakebite.
Released on 8th October 2012 on People Like You Records.
[button link=”http://www.peoplelikeyourecords.com/artist.aspx?IdArtist=321″ newwindow=”yes”] The Peacocks[/button]
Bravo from Memphis.
Very nice review thanks – the only small thing is I don’t think the band have ever been considered psychobilly.
Personally I don’t consider them psychobilly (there’s more to it than a slap bass, kids!) but I know some people do, they’re on a predominately psychobilly label, they tend to play on more psychobilly line-ups and they attract that crowd (in London at least). But hey, what’s in a name and all that…
…although both their website and their record company’s website use the word “psychobilly” in relation to them
‘The first peacocks show happened in 1990. The band back then was HASU on guitar, ADI on drums and MICHI on double bass. It was very rockabillyorientated poppy psychobilly with lots of coverversions.
People like you records.
14/09/2012 THE PEACOCKS: THE PEACOCKS – NEW ALBUM “DON’T ASK” OUT OCTOBER 8TH
The Peacock’s genius mixture of punk, rockabilly and psychobilly garnished with cool beats and a pinch of pop, will keep you dancing all night long. The new Album “Don’t Ask” is available on Vinyl,…
not a bad review, but I’m of the opposite opinion of the band to the reviewer, I’ve always found it hard to listen to the bands recorded work for any length of time but find them to be unmissable live ! always giving a great show !
So Carl are you highlighting with all your cut and pasting that I am correct or when you have a shandy do you still say it’s beer?
I would have to beg to differ on the point about The Peacocks attracting a mainly psychobilly audience. They played The Underworld in Camden not too long ago together with The Creepshow, Dragster and the Graveyard Johnnys – a personal favorite of mine.
The audience mainly consisted of 18-26 year olds and the amount of faces from the “old guard” could have been counted on the fingers of 1 hand. It was busy too, and judging by the uniforms the kids were wearing the audience ranged from Emo right through to metal to rockabilly. It was a young, enthusiastic, diverse audience and a great gig.
There are plenty of bands that play the psychobilly circuit who are able to pull a wider audience and in doing so introduce them to a type of music I have a strong love for, and I for one am positive about it’s future.
I can only comment on when I saw them in 2010 and 2011, when the audience was predominately, although certainly not exclusively, psychobilly and rockabilly. I am glad to hear that their audience this year was more varied and it certainly supports the point I made in the review about them appealing to a young and diverse crowd; I think this trend will continue with the release of this album, as I said in the review, it is likely to increase their popularity further. As for new bands, I go into some detail about all the great bands around in my Mad Sin review, which will be published in the next couple of days.
“Never quite nailed it live!!??” Totally disagree, one of my favourite live bands, full of energy, always a pleasure to watch and completely nail it live everytime in my opinion. Live performance 10/10.
Have to agree with Fry Up Inspector in that respect.