The Pierces - You & I (Polydor)

01 Jun 2011

if Thirteen Tales of Love and Revenge was November, then this is June, July, August – it is a stylised, sophisticated homage to Woodstock, to California dreaming and slow, hot nights...”; release – 2011

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For those of us who would be been happier had we been born in the fifties, then escaped into the sixties, The Pierces sing of solidarity. The sisters from Alabama, Allison and Catherine, have been performing for about a decade, but have only recently found mainstream attention, having been “discovered” by the bassist from Coldplay, who went on the mentor the girls, and produce their third album, “You and I”.

Although the Pierces grew up listening to Neil Young and The Mamas and the Papas (influences that show on this record, for sure), their present sound is a significant departure from the slightly naughtier, darker songs of their previous album, Thirteen Songs of Love and Revenge. They played to intimate Manhattan crowds for a few years, parodying some of their elite audience with ‘Boring’ and creating their own brand of intrigue with ‘Secret’ and ‘Kill! Kill! Kill!’

Their Southern roots were clear and dark, and yet harmonious with the New York sound of hard-won pleasure, the casual whiskey-soda-stolen-cigarettes feeling of slipping control, falling into stories of brief encounters and anecdotal broken hearts.

You and I is very different. Very hippie, very sunny, pretty country. But don’t let that put you off: if Thirteen Tales of Love and Revenge was November, then this is June, July, August – it is a stylised, sophisticated homage to Woodstock, to California dreaming and slow, hot nights. After a decade of performing together, the sisters’ harmonies are perfect and natural, and it is hard not to be swept into their dreamy escapism.

And the intrigue and originality of their previous album has not been ditched: ‘Kissing You Goodbye’ is a romantic song of regret, disappointment and escape. ‘Glorious’, which at first listening sounds like a very summery, very Southern pop song, is really a goodbye to a heroin addict who died, and impossible to shake off. It, like most songs on the album, is far more haunting than you would first suspect. And ‘The Good Samaritan’ is a darker, drunk(er) version of Nancy Sinatra, somewhere close to a confession box, but closer to a bottle of whiskey.

Perhaps what is so addicting, and so haunting about The Pierces is that they trick you into it. They sing of summer, but they remember November. They sing so beautifully and casually that you won’t realise for a little while that they’re singing about remorse, death, and running away, beneath the pretty harmonies and romantic nostalgia. 

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