French Exit (label)
21 February 2020 (released)
21 February 2020
Duo Katy Young and Rosa Slade return from self-imposed exile with ‘Vices’, their first album since 2014’s ‘Choir of Echoes’.
A 60s inflected collection that blends surf-country upbeat melancholia (at times reminiscent of The Mekons’ forays into Americana cowpunk) with themes of love and its attendant criteria: affirmation and self-worth with(in) a union (‘Validation’), unrequited mooning and swooning from afar with the stipulation to not be given ‘’what I want, but what I need’(‘Motorcade’) situating it with Jimmy Webb’s prosaic paean ‘Wichita Lineman’ and the obstacles and hurdles required to both endure and enjoy a conscious coupling (the breezy ‘Validate Me’ reminds of Strawberry Switchblade).
The album’s title suggests both a constraining and restraining situation and/or the pursuit of pleasure at 'all' costs. The result is to the contrary, this is a spacious and expansive listen that incorporates the pair’s participation in the Deep Throat Choir, a 30-strong singing group, which here is allied to deft, delicate guitar licks and flicks.
The Everly Brothers’ becalmed harmonising yet laden with rue oozes through ‘I wanna be your girl’ (there are faint traces of the Brothers’ ‘oh-no-more-woe’ pair ‘Since you broke my heart’ and ‘Problems’). This opener sets the tones for wry observational reverb(iage) and fuzz-pedal echoes.
Just by calling a song ‘In Dreams’ invokes the spirit of Roy Orbison, he of the heartbroken and wish-had-been-spoken. In this case the green-eyed monster is summonsed, the assured promise of ‘I’ll be the greatest love you’ve ever had’ which flips from ‘greatest’ to ‘longest’ with the pay-off that ‘dreams are ‘never’ long enough. The thrumming percussion drives the song ahead, the image created one of a desert-wide terrain both in the rear view mirror and also at the horizon’s end.
The titular ‘Vices’ updates the adage ‘love is/as a drug’ as the vocals initially forewarn that ‘too much of anything will only leave you wanting’ the last intoxicating word hanging, rootless and unattached until before the killer pay-off … ‘more’. The advice? Everything in moderation. Including moderation.
The fluctuating whims of romance and the irregularity of affection litter ‘Better Days’ as the words ‘on my better days, all I see is love, love , love’ but in between all that I see is that it’s not enough’ the
By pointing out the light in the cracks and the virtues of grey areas, Peggy Sue break free from temptation and deliver us from upheaval.