New To Us – Peaness

Peaness 1
All photos by Debbie Ellis –

With a name that is definitely not a smutty pun, but simply a reference to the beloved petit pois, Peaness are guitarist Carleia Balbenta, bassist Jessica Branney and drummer Rachel Williams.

Peaness deal in bright and breezy indie-pop; combining Jessica and Carleia’s infectious two-part harmonies, with prominent bass, shimmering guitar work and Rachel’s energetic, punk-tinged drumming. Pop-enough for day time radio, yet apparently punk enough that they recently earned a full-page spread in Kerrang!

Peaness are from the rock’n’roll hot-bed of Chester. Having had city status since 1541, Chester is home to just over 80,000 people, and is one of the best preserved walled cities in Britain. Chester was first founded as a Roman fort, and was one of their most important army bases in Britain. It is also home to the oldest continuously used sporting venue in the country, Chester Race Course. Musically, Peaness continue a lineage of great rock bands from Chester that up until now pretty much started and ended with Mansun.

Peaness formed at the back-end of 2014, self-releasing their ironically very fun debut EP, No Fun in 2015. That EP is now long since sold out, as is a recent AA single Same Place/Seafoam Island, which came out earlier this year on Oddbox Records. The trio have now signed to Alcopop Records, who last week put out their new EP, Are You Sure?

On their latest EP, Are You Sure?, Peaness collect a number of tracks they’ve shared with the world so far into one handy, vinyl pressing, our only criticism of which is that it isn’t pea green. The five tracks here are a perfect introduction to the band, showcasing their natural way with an unforgettable melody. Throughout, the duel-vocals are stunning, Carleia and Jessica singing almost every word in perfect harmony.

For the most part the EP sticks to a pretty simple and classic guitar, bass, drums formula; what lifts Are You Sure? beyond a classic, pretty, sun-drenched, indie-pop throwback is a combination of strong lyricism and enough grit to support the sweetness. There’s just enough clattering energy in the drum beats, the guitars have just enough fuzz, and the bass is that bit more prominent, and interesting, than you’d ever get on a pure-pop track.

Lyrically the EP is hugely varied, the songs drifting through the personal, political and even, on Ugly Veg, the much under represented world of environmental activism, where they sing, “I want to see the oceans clean, I want the world to stay green”. Oh George is the band’s “tribute” to our former Chancellor and his comrades in the Conservative Government. The lyrical barbs set to a contrastingly upbeat poppy-track, as they sing in unison, “oh George you broke my heart, you lied to me and my family, oh George, I should have known, you only think of your own”. Same Place is an all-together more subtle offering, it tackles what are dismissively labelled millennial problems, and offers a gentle longing for the simplicity of childhood. They sing, “being young was so easy”, whilst reminiscing about old friendships that struggle on, “we try to keep in touch, everyone’s always in and out of love”, and ruing the difficulty in finding a work-life balance, “we survive a nine to five, struggling to compromise”.

The stand out moment here is the sublime Seafoam Islands; a wistful and romantic sojourn from the blandness of the everyday, and a tribute to that feelings of wanting to escape into the arms of another as they sing, “I want to get lost with you”. Courtesy of the stomp-along guitar line and excellent percussion, all clattering cymbals and bouncing bass-drum, it’s possessed with a real energy at odds to the melodic wash of the vocals. The chorus is just beautiful, the complex vocal melody, destined for attempted and failed attempts at recreation by everyone who hears it but doesn’t have the vocal prowess of these hugely talented singers – or is that just us?

Why Not?
If we’re being somewhat harsh, there’s nothing particularly new about the sound of Peaness, but you’d be hard pushed to find anyone currently doing indie-pop any better.

Are You Sure? is out now via Alcopop Records. Click HERE for more information on Peaness.

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