Katy Klaw, Rosa Rex and Olly (single name only, surely that’s sexism) created quite a beguiling blues racket in the Academy 2 recently, supporting Local Natives, and that initial promise is more than followed through on their debut album for London’s Wichita Recordings label, fast becoming the home of quality alternative sounds (Bloc Party, Conor Oberst, Los Campesinos!) across the pond.
Fusing bar-room blues, crawling country, alt. folk and squalling rock n’ roll, Peggy Sue come across like a bewitching mix of PJ Harvey and The Ronnettes, caterwauling choruses and doo-wop harmonies colliding in a heady brew of infectious melodies, toe-tapping tunes and more time changes than the Swatch factory on overtime. Album opener, -Long Division Blues’ is a perfect introduction, morphing from fragile would-be love paean to -60s pop perfection and on to frantic freak-fest without so much as a by-your-leave.
They may be based in Brighton, but the three-piece (augmented by string section, Becca Mears and Emma Kraemer), would be equally at home in any of America’s red states, such is the down-home nature of tracks like the pensive -Watchman’ or wonderful early single, -Yo Mama’, which isn’t nearly as bling as its title would suggest: instead, it’s a galloping profession of survival, where ‘I’m praying to gods I can’t believe/ Saying you won’t take me quietly’.
Katy and Rosa trade vocals throughout, mixing sweet and acrid with delicious aplomb, while Olly’s drumming varies from merely tapping out the beat to trashing it to within an inch of its life, often within the confines of the same song.
Fossils… does dip a little in its mid-section, with the cacophonic -She Called’ and the folksy -The Remainder’, but the quality control picks up again with the stunning -Matilda’, before the downright strange -Fossils’ and the gorgeous -Shape We Made’ bring things to a close. Either this trio have packed some amount of living into their 20-something lives so far or they have the wildest of imaginations. Whatever the reason, we’re the winners, as we get to wallow in their devilishly dark, beautifully bruised rock -n’ blues.