An interesting addition to the new wave of electro-pop acts coming out of Leeds is Peakes, the dreamy synth-pop three piece producing soaring, cyclic vocals broken up by sporadic, impatient drum explosions.
Whilst Leeds College of Music is credited as being the birthplace of a few synth-pop newcomers of the region (Polo, LAMIA, La Rissa) it was Leeds University which first brought vocalist Molly Puckering, keyboard player Max Shirley and drummer Pete Redshaw together as housemates.
Puckering, despite being the sole vocalist in the band, has in an interview with The Yorkshire Post referred to the formation of the group’s vocals as a ‘collaborative process,’ also describing their music as being about “exploring relationships, not mostly romantic.” A listener of their four singles released to date can attest to this – tracks play out like repeated snippets from one side of a conversation. This gives the music an intimate feeling all the more so, as lyrics allude to blame and hurt, forming the idea that these are conversations of the most personal nature, snapshots of relationships at their crescendo. A track like ‘Space’ reveals the band’s motivations: a sleek vision, poised and refined yet still searching, take a closer gaze at the lyrics in the chorus where Puckering’s words slowly cascade into a blistering statement of emotional uncertainty: “Did it hurt you, like it hurt me? I can’t block you out/ Did it break you, like it broke me? I can’t work it out.”
The drawn-out repetition of certain phrases can become hypnotic to the listener, meaning the sporadic interruption of Redshaw on acoustic drums (refreshingly for an electronic group) is relieving, snapping a sense of urgency back to the music, almost grounding the listener after the highs of Puckering’s tones. This is exactly what happened at the recent Live at Leeds festival set, during which Puckering had a Sigrid-like, almost rigid, serious rhythm. Their set also included a brave cover of Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’ which was a beautifully unique stylistic take of the classic. Puckering wasn’t imitating in her vocal take but using her own distinctive voice, which holds promise for future songwriting.
Religious symbols and the idea of repentance are also a loose theme in Peakes’ releases, as seen in ‘Saint’: “How can I be a saint/ With the choices I’ve made.” The lyrics of ‘Saint’ playing out again like an argument between lovers, full of provocative questions looking for a rise – “What’s done is done/ Didn’t you tell me that once,” a statement that could be imagined being said with a smile of mock innocence, an image complimented perfectly by the angelic, youthful-sounding vocal delivery.
Out of their four self-written tracks ‘Pray For You’ – in a continuation of the theme of religion – is the one which inspires the most movement, throwing contemporary reference points toward London indie-pop groove-mongers FOURS. The track also displays the full potential of Puckering’s vocals, the beginning of the song showcasing lower tones that we have come accustomed to with the other three tracks on the record.
In this acoustic session of ‘Waves,’ seemingly with only a piano, maracas and a voice the calming effect of the original track is not only carried over but concentrated. Peakes are able to bypass the use of unnecessary instruments or feel the need to produce constant sound because the music they make is of substance. The pauses in their songs appear comfortable and their future as songwriters promising.
Peakes have a headline show scheduled in for Thursday 25th October at London’s Waiting Room, tickets are on sale now (purchase here).