Following their three-year radio silence, I was (naturally) thrilled by the news of Peggy Sue’s latest release, Choir Of Echoes. This haunting concoction of enigma and melancholy is the first original material we’ve heard since their 2011 album, Acrobats. However, notwithstanding some ephemeral flickers of brilliance, the product of the aforementioned hiatus is, alas, an ultimately dissatisfying offering. It’s gloriously intriguing, a result of reverberating vocals and experimental instrumentation, but neglects to really engage the listener.
Aptly, the Brighton-based duo describe their new record as being ‘about singing, about losing your voice and finding it again’. An emphasis on expression is illustrated from the outset, with Come Back Around, where Katy Young and Rose Slade chant acapella to spellbinding effect. The album’s title is likewise reflected in its opening track, and later on through immensely tender ringing wails in the likes of Figure of Eight and Esme. Peggy Sue’s desired vibe is sustained so immaculately that the effectiveness of Choir Of Echoes is undeniable: it’s cohesive, yet at the same time mesmerising in its unpredictability.
Perhaps the highlight of Choir Of Echoes for me comes in the form of a simple, unadulterated melody, where Young and Slade demonstrate the beautifully complementary nature of their respective voices. It’s a shame that How Heavy The Quiet That Grew Between Your Mouth And Mine, with its delicate harmonies to rival The Staves, is something of an anomaly on this album, which at times verges on the cacophonous. So frequently Choir Of Echoes’s tracks are overly abstract, resulting in swallowed vocals and riffs, and therefore a real absence of catchy melodies. The mellow, summery sound of Longest Day Of The Year Blues sees an attempt to rectify this, as does the poetic lyricism of And Always Is, but the record’s overall sound is rather hazy and disorientating.