Photo by Mike Masaro
People, especially music critics, love genres. It helps us conceptualize where a band is coming from by putting some arbitrary label on them. But the rub lies in the fact that hardly any band (especially in 2014) adheres to just one “genre.” That’s why you get the maddening proliferation of hyphenated genre names (e.g. “proto-hardcore-psychobilly-folk-math-new wave-metal-rock”). Early on in their journey as a band, U.K. group Peggy Sue got labeled as a “folk” band. With their sparse, acoustic arrangements, you could hear why, but you could also hear that “folk” wasn’t going to cut it either. There was, and is, something more to them.
Friends Rosa Slade and Katy Young formed the band in 2005. They went by the name Peggy Sue & The Pirates before just going by Peggy Sue. A tour with Mumford and Sons upped the Brighton band’s visibility. Drummer Olly Joyce joined the fold by the time of the release of their 2010 debut full-length debut Fossils and Other Phantoms. A more (literally) electric and jagged Peggy Sue followed the next year with the release of their 2011 record Acrobats.
Earlier this week (Tuesday, Jan. 27) Peggy Sue picked up where Acrobats left off with their latest album Choir of Echoes. There are whispers of Peggy Sue’s more folk-inflected past on Choir of Echoes, but that’s it, only whispers. Peggy Sue’s become a dark rock act that can brood with the best of them. Even at its sunniest, Choir of Echoes has an almost elegiac quality to it. They allow songs to breathe cold wind through bare thorn bushes. The song “Idle” showcases the feel of the album. After a dirge-like vocal intro from Slade and Young with just far-off, reverby guitars to back them, the song comes crashing in, and when it hits, it hits hard. The tempo picks up, and “Idle” becomes anything but.