Release Date: May 14, 2013
Record label: Thrill Jockey
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Post-Rock
Future Islands and Double Dagger, the former a synthpop outfit and the latter a bunch of rowdy rockers who recently called it a day, are both popular artists in their own Baltimore scene. With that in mind, the collaboration between William Cashion of the former and Bruce Willen of the latter as Peals is an intriguing one. One would be forgiven for thinking that the fruits of their work would be upfront and in-your-face.
Side projects are an inevitability for musicians itching to keep their creative juices flowing between tours with their main gigs. But in the case of William Cashion and Bruce Willen’s new joint venture, Peals, it feels less like a time-killing indulgence than a therapeutic necessity. With their respective bands-- glamboyant synth pop fops Future Islands and art punk bruisers Double Dagger-- the two have played active roles in making Baltimore’s Wham City scene one the most vibrant, prolific, and relentlessly excitable music communities to emerge in the past decade.
There’s a song on Peals’ debut album called “Tiptoes In the Parlor,” a title that sums up the Baltimore two-piece’s sound, which is soft and inconspicuous. The song even sounds a little like tiptoes in a parlor, as crystalline guitars skitter their way out of your speakers. The only thing that could make it more precious and precocious would be to put a “u” in parlor.
A drastic departure from their former Baltimore indie rock/post-punk groups, for Peals' 2013 debut Walking Field, Future Islands' William Cashion and Double Dagger's Bruce Willen teamed up for a sweeping ambient sound collage project. Built on pastoral instrumentation, both members contribute a variety of sounds, manipulating guitar loops, keyboards, Fisher-Price xylophones, and field recordings into drone pieces. Textures play the main role in the opener "Floating Leaf," a piece that features some fingerpicking and atmospheric washes that never stray from a single unified key, and "Blue Elvis" is a simple guitar melody played over some found percussion tapped from a distant hallway.