wears the trousers magazine


peaches: i feel cream (2009)

p_lp_peaches_09

Peaches
I Feel Cream ••••
XL

Nine years ago The Teaches Of Peaches turned a whole generation of unsuspecting electro kids into unbridled polysexual slaves, overseen by a stripped-down schoolteacher in spandex with a shock of mad curly hair and a penchant for covering her deviant following in mouthfuls of spat-out fake blood. Oh, and all of this while rapping some of the dirtiest rhymes ever written and throwing in facial hair, lots of balls and, reassuringly, a sense of humour. Peaches came to us like a much needed kick in the crotch, as fierce and disturbing as the result of Sandra Bernhard and Madonna put in the Brundlefly machine along with the entire cast of the ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’.

For an artist that arrived on the ill-fated electroclash wagon, Peaches has stuck around and held onto a solid fanbase by diversifying her sound, taking on slightly higher production values on Fatherfucker (well, it wasn’t produced in her bedroom between masturbation and marijuana sessions for starters) and a more conscious rock sound with Impeach My Bush. Undeniably provocative, Peaches is not an act that one could necessarily call broadly appealing and three albums worth of titty suckin’ and skittle diddlin’ can be exhausting stuff for even the most hardened of fans. Impeach My Bush notably showed signs of desperation in its unrelenting, frantic need to try out different styles while holding onto the message of sexual empowerment. Now it’s time for our fourth bite of the Peach and I Feel Cream finds her in esteemed company with production mainly from Simian Mobile Disco’s James Ford and contributions from Drums Of Death, Soulwax and Digitalism.

It is worth saying straight away that this is not your average Peaches album. I Feel Cream has laser beams and keyboard squelches in place of the gritty 808 beats and, daringly, a total shift in focus from the sexual to the sensual on a few of its tracks. It begins, however, in true Peaches style with ‘Serpentine’, its familiar thump-crack beat augmented with a detached vocal and an icy aide memoire that she still doesn’t give two hoots if you are “calling me” or “stalking me”. It’s a rather formulaic start that gives no indication of what is to come, but the new direction is crystal clear come the second track and first single, ‘Talk To Me’. Chief among the changes, she is actually singing. In fact, the song has only a tiny spoken word breakdown in which she quips “This ain’t no Peaches show,” and given the fact that for the first time on record she has put aside the carnal preoccupation and is demanding oral action of the conversational kind, this is a near-factual statement. Co-written by longtime collaborator Gonzales and produced by the almighty Soulwax, ‘Talk To Me’ is a simple little stomper that indicates a love of genuine pop that was perhaps always lurking behind the profane.

The feeling of moving into new territory continues as ‘Lose You’ marks the first time we have heard an emotionally longing side to Peaches. Sensual and breathy, she coos “I don’t want to lose you” over an intro that recalls ‘Heart Of Glass’ as the insistent, jittering beat emphasises and underlines her frustration. This is serious and strange stuff that is only made stranger by the knowledge that this is Peaches and not Kylie. On ‘More’, colossal synths fizz and zap like a beefed up ZX Spectrum stuck in loading mode, evidently the dazzling handiwork of James Ford. “It seems you got a little bit more than you asked for” could surely be the title of a future retrospective if she ever were to have one. ‘Billionaire’ features Shunda K of lesbian rap outfit Yo! Majesty and is a tongue in cheek and addictive electro-tinged slice of hip-hop that makes little sense lyrically. Still, it imitates the overblown style favoured by the males of the rap world with surprisingly effective results (even if it does contain the line “Big trouble in little mangina”).

The star of the show has to be the title track itself, and what is surprising is that, despite the fruity title, ‘I Feel Cream’ is firmly focused on a dreamy romantic encounter through a shower of flashing lights and moving bodies. Compelling and yet vacant in the same way as Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’, it is exaggerated lyrically (“Your lips reflect the light”) and understated vocally in the manner of ’90s floor-filler ‘Not Over Yet’ by the now defunct Grace. The synths tremble along and cut out to a fabulously funky rap in which “every little defect gets respect” before everything kicks back into a disco-shaking crescendo worthy of a hands aloft dancefloor moment if ever there was one.

I Feel Cream has its flaws too. ‘Relax’ is flimsy and more likely to induce deep sleep than inspire deep penetration, while ‘Take You On’ treads old ground. After all, it was a long time ago when Peaches took us on and it doesn’t require three minutes of said threat being repeated in order to confirm this. ‘Mud’ is more interesting but this ode to a ruined reputation would probably sound more sincere coming from the likes of P!nk. Redemption from the untrue is far too un-fabulous a subject in the company of the stomping ‘Mommy Complex’ and the panty-dropping action of ‘Show Stopper’. ‘Mommy Complex’ in particular stands out among the final few tracks and features a viciously catchy riff and probably the most thundering piece of production on the album thanks to German dance punksters Digitalism. What sounds like an industrial drill closes this hilarious and playful nod to Miss Nisker’s status as an ageing purveyor of filth.

I Feel Cream is not a masterpiece, but Peaches has never been about perfection. The choice to work with such a dazzling array of dance maestros has brought a freshness and a cutting edge that was missing on Impeach My Bush. Combined with the vivacity and wordplay of Peaches herself, the synthy sounds her collaborators have put together form a potent and unique brand of dance-pop with plenty of hooks and an offbeat melodicism. It’s an audibly successful formula that indicates there may be even better to come, and perhaps a widening of the Peaches fanbase is imminent. I Feel Cream is the sort of album you should listen to with the furniture pushed back, wearing only your spangliest hotpants, and serves as explicit proof that you don’t just have to fuck the pain away, you can dance it off too.

Chris Catchpole
UK release date: 04/05/09; www.myspace.com/peaches

 

‘Talk To Me’

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[…] Bartlam  15/5] 04 Au Revoir Simone – Still Night, Still Light [Hugh Armitage 4/5] 05 Peaches – I Feel Cream [Chris Catchpole 18/4] 06 Sharon Van Etten – Because I Was In Love [Anja McCloskey 15/4] 07 […]

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