Album Review: The Pierces – Creation

By on Thursday, 4th September 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

The Pierces Creation coverThis week, American sister band The Pierces released their 5th studio LP ‘Creation’, a shimmering desert mirage of ethereal vocal harmonies and transcendental lyrics that reflects the pair’s recent relocation to Southern California. We here at TGTF have already featured the eponymous track ‘Creation’ and its accompanying video, which characterize the outstanding features of the album as a whole.

The title track to ‘Creation’ is a strong hook for the rest of the LP, showcasing Allison and Catherine Pierce’s seamless vocal blend in the context of pounding tribal rhythms, resonant backing vocals, and iridescent percussion. Its luminous keyboard line glistens behind the perpetual motion of the chorus, “you’re the creation / you’re the reason / you’re the rising sun and the colors in my mind / you’re the changing of the seasons / you’re the growing old and the passing of the time.”

The album’s first single and second track ‘Kings’ has a more pop-oriented rhythm and edgy, cool vocals that immediately made me wonder if this is what the Bangles might have sounded like with synths instead of guitars. The dramatic chorus, “if we want to / we could do what kings do / I can feel the earth move when you speak”, has an especially ’80s feel to it, particularly in the contrast between the vocal melody and the sultry lower-voice harmony.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/TySVbwKixD8[/youtube]

The anxious heartbeat rhythm and contrasting back-and-forth vocals of ‘Believe in Me’ and the cagey moving harmonies in ‘Come Alive’ are promising hints of variety that unfortunately don’t quite play out on the later part of the album. From this point forward, ‘Creation’ begins to lose momentum, becoming wrapped up in the increasingly contrived lyrics and the monotony of the same rhythms and minor key vocal arrangements being recycled on every track.

The 13 tracks on the album could probably have been culled down to 9 or 10 in order to maintain the thematic focus and mitigate the cloying effect of the rich vocals. Upbeat foot-stomping track ‘Honest Man’ is buried between two vaguely-titled and rather more bland tracks, ‘I Can Feel’ and ‘Must Be Something’. Toward the end of the album, folk ballad ‘Confidence in Love’ feels almost more clinical than emotional, while ‘The One I Want’ is an exquisitely slow-burning exploration of the “masculine mystique”. Final track ‘Flesh and Bone’ is a delicate ending that highlights the dynamic beauty of the sisters’ voices as the album’s main strength.

The Pierces have clearly attempted to expand their musical horizons on ‘Creation’, even going so far as to procure a shaman and ingest ayahuasca to inspire their experimentation with new sonic effects. And while ‘Creation’ is somewhat of a departure from their past, the contrast isn’t as dramatic as it might have been. The sisters’ deep spiritual journey doesn’t extend musically beyond the visceral rhythms and echoing vocals into, for example, more fluid song structures or harmonic variety. In the end, ‘Creation’ is a bit stifled by its own lofty lyrics and airtight vocal harmonies. But the almost tangible energy at the beginning of the album and the graceful precision of the lighter tracks near the end are worth the wandering journey through the middle.

7/10

‘Creation’ is out now on Polydor Records. The Pierces will begin a tour of the UK in support of the album later this month; you can find the details here.

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