I was late to the party with Chester-based trio Peaness, who had been going and gigging for almost four years before I fell completely under their spell in late 2019 after catching them, quite by accident, at a show at Brighton’s Prince Albert pub. Before their set was even two songs in they had become my New Favourite Band Of The Day, and I looked forward to falling further in love with their music during 2020. Sadly opportunities to do so were non-existent, but I’m quick at making up for lost time – as are Peaness – and they have a marvellous new long-playing record that is guaranteed to expand what was already a fairly substantial fan base from before the world had ever heard of Covid19.
World Full Of Worry is a simply beautiful debut LP, filled with frequently downbeat and often flat-out melancholic songs masked by the upbeat, sunny nature of their melodies and the always gorgeous vocals of bassist Jess Branney and guitarist Balla Balbenta. Peaness’ own Twitter page proclaims that they have been “making sad bangers since 2015” and sad bangers are definitely what populate this album. Indeed, so upbeat and melodic are almost all of the tunes that their messages were easy to overlook for my first four or five plays, so delightful was it to listen to over and over again.
Its eleven tracks – including several previous singles, highlighted by the delightful pre-lockdown vinyl release ‘Kaizen’ and the more recent, exclusively digital ‘How I’m Feeling’ – fly by in what feels like a split second, although it’s a perfectly acceptable length for an album. But as you know, time always flies when you are enjoying yourself…
As well as those two winners, the album reprises several download-only ‘singles’ from 2022 such as the recent ‘Irl’ and its predecessor (and the album’s ostensible title track) ‘Worry’.
What might just be its best track, 2021’s ‘What’s The Use’ motors along splendidly, with sweetest vocals this side of Tate & Lyle’s syrup being underpinned by Jess and drummer Rachel Williams’ telepathically tight rhythm section. ‘I Never Get Invited To The Cool Parties’ they sing, with very few signs that Jess and Balla actually care about this. Nevertheless I’m sure there will be plenty of cool parties in the trio’s immediate and ongoing future…
Besides the singles there so much more to savour, from the ‘Hello Clouds, Hello Sky’ feel of the psych-light, acoustic opener ‘Take A Trip’, to the impressive detailing of a crumbling relationship (‘People Change, I’ve Grown Too Far From You’) that is its closer ‘Sad Song’, with a melody and cascading harmonies that would not have sounded out of place on any late Beatles or early Todd Rundgren album. Impressive, too, is the fact that Peaness have made an album that sounds just like they do when they play live. There are a few overdubs and the odd extra instrument played here and there, but nothing surplus to requirements, and the whole thing sounds recorded rather than produced (in a very good way, of course…)
You’ll be looking for comparisons, I suppose? Well, apart perhaps from London’s Deuxes, I can’t think of a single act currently on the circuit who sound even slightly like Peaness, or vice versa – and of course it’s a good thing to sound like yourself and nobody else. They do share some harmonic and melodic traits with a band I loved and miss very much, Brighton’s late lamented Bloom, but otherwise I had to dig back a long way to reference early Orange Juice (Peaness would do a blinding cover of ‘Falling And Laughing’) and 80s cult favourites Sophie and Peter Johnson. It’s the fact that they don’t sound like anybody currently out there but themselves that makes Jess, Rachel and Balla so appealing as a band, and so likely to fast track themselves to headline shows in bigger venues than those they are currently playing.
I know there’s still a lot of 2022 to go, but I think it’s entirely possible that I might have already found my favourite album of the year. Peaness are literally just about to embark on an extensive UK tour to promote it including several gigs and signings in shops, details of which can be found on their Facebook
Twitter or on their website peanessband.com
‘World Full Of Worry’ is out now, on CD and vinyl, on Totally Snick Records. You can buy it at any Peaness gig or good record shop from 6 May onwards, or order direct from their Bandcamp.