Peggy Sue

Choir of Echoes

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Ever since their Peggy Sue and the Pirates and Peggy Sue and the Pictures days, Peggy Sue were misfits in the nu-folk scene that grew around them. Even on their debut album, Fossils and Other Phantoms, they were too unpredictable and edgy to fit in with more lucratively easy-to-read acts like Mumford & Sons, and the band's turn toward moody rock on their second album, Acrobats, felt like a reflection of this. Three years after that album's release, Peggy Sue seem more comfortable with their folky past as well as their indie pop flirtations, and they balance all the aspects of their music on Choir of Echoes with more flair than they've shown in some time. As always, the interplay between singers Katy Young and Rosa Slade sparkles, giving a charge to the fittingly named "Electric Light" and authenticity to "How Heavy the Quiet That Grew Between Your Mouth and Mine," the only track on Choir of Echoes that could truly be called folk. Elsewhere, Peggy Sue commit to blurring the boundaries between the different sides of their music, often with exciting results: they contrast "Always Going"'s flowing melody with naive "shoo-be-doo" backing vocals to express the tension of a directionless relationship, and send up the sadness of a summertime breakup with girl group melodrama on "Longest Day of the Year Blues." "Substitute" is as hooky as it is dark, and on songs like this and the tart, brassy "Figure of Eight," Peggy Sue evoke Electrelane's moody, brainy pop. Choir of Echoes' second half sometimes retreats into Acrobats-like dourness a little too often, but it's still one of the most evenhanded and satisfying examples of what the band can do. Peggy Sue may always be a little too quirky to reap the mainstream success of some of their contemporaries, but their versatility is a strength they can bank on in the long run.

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