A femous centenary night
Do I dare to eat a peach?” – T.S. Eliot
Do I dare to eat a peach?” – T.S. Eliot
You think you know Peaches? Perhaps you do. Whether you’ve been a fan since before her groundbreaking 2000 debut, The Teaches of Peaches, or just met for the first time, prepare to get to know her much, much better. Peaches has always trafficked in subversion.On her fourth full-length, I Feel Cream, what she subverts—time and again—are preconceived notions of who Peaches is and what she does. Having held the attention of international audiences for a decade, now she reveals new dimensions of her artistry. These twelve new songs feature vocal performances of startling vulnerability and cool sophistication. A minimalist, nothing-is-wasted economy of sound that throws every lyric and groove into sharp relief. And a fresh take on Peaches’ fiercely independent approach to writing and production, with assistance from colleagues as formidable and inspired as the artist herself.
Cue up “Talk To Me,” and hear—hell, try to ignore—the unchecked passion with which Peaches pleads and implores, her performance imbued with a rawness reminiscent of the great ladies of ‘70s soul. At the other end of the spectrum, “Lose You” may recall the icy elegance of New Romantic synth-pop, but Steve Strange never sang with such delicacy or melodic refinement. “In my wildest dreams, I would never have thought I’d have a song like ‘Lose You’—with soft singing, which evokes different emotions—on my album,” admits Peaches.
A revolutionary figure in 21st century electronic music, Peaches can also reference the innovations of like-minded icons who preceded her with cool assurance. The dark, throbbing synthesizers and mechanized handclaps of “More” underscore her affinity for Suicide—as does her decision to eschew guitars throughout the album, even on the neck-snapping “Show Stopper.” On the title track, she effortlessly sings in a melodic high register—we've never heard her sing like this before—over oscillating keyboards, then suddenly snaps back with cool, early-era rap style over a killer electro beat a la Shannon’s “Let the Music Play,” evoking that blissful era in the early ‘80s when disco returned underground and mutated.
There are selections in the classic Peaches vein, too, edgy and confrontational. “Mommy Complex” echoes previous favorites like “Back It Up, Boys” (from Fatherfucker, 2003) and “Two Guys for Every Girl” (Impeach My Bush, 2006). Yet these tracks proffer unexpected twists as well. The low-slung “Billionaire,” featuring bad ass rapper Shunda K from Yo! Majesty, showcases Peaches’ most straightforward rapping to date. And as she tics through her own back pages on opener “Serpentine,” the phat bass line pummels alongside her rhymes, reminding the listener that even though this is a new chapter, the heart of the Peach—“ "corazón de melocotón"—will always be there!
Peaches is still Peaches. “I have a strong image and a strong character,” she admits. “I just didn’t want everything to have a punch line.”
To help her realize the myriad ideas of I Feel Cream, Peaches enlisted assistance from some of her most celebrated peers: Soulwax, Simian Mobile Disco, Drums of Death, Digitalism, Shapemod. And for the first time, she tried her hand at writing with her old friend Gonzales; the duo found themselves creating songs at a rate of one or two a day.
While these collaborations may have tested the boundaries of her artistic comfort zone, Peaches did not reach outside her creative universe when seeking input. I Feel Cream is a wholly organic exercise. “When I play DJ gigs, these are people I DJ beside,” she emphasizes. “We perform on the same bills, headline the same venues. We move through the same world. These are my friends, and they want to work with me, the same way I want to work with them.”
And work they did. In Berlin and London, in pairs and trios. And sometimes alone. The evolution of each track was unique, but its genesis always began with Peaches. “I never just sent someone a file and said, ‘Write something.’ I never gave up creative control. I was working with strong people, and I also have very strong opinions.”
You think you know Peaches? Wanna bet?
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Photo by Angel Ceballos
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