There is no way Peach Pit leader Neil Smith could have predicted that You and Your Friends, the Vancouver-formed foursome’s sophomore full-length and major label debut, would see release during a global pandemic, though album centrepiece “Camila I’m at Home” lands especially resonant in these early days of social distancing. Above an intro of creek-rippling guitar effects, the singer softly documents a night at home alone; he’s stoned and staring at his phone, waiting for a message from the titular Camila, which may never come. He’s….been there for a bit, adding, “You don’t understand, I haven’t left my room in a couple days, even though you might think that I’d want to.”
The song’s achingly isolated theme takes on new meaning while coping with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as we’re on stay-at-home orders, anxiously wondering about all the people in our lives. In the context of the album, it’s one of a handful of moments of lonesome reflection, but the group’s overall serotonin-stoking arrangements make the album bouncy, not bleak.
Early single “Shampoo Bottle” takes a slightly more humorous, self-deprecating approach than “Camila I’m at Home”. It finds one-half of an imploded relationship desperate to keep up some kind of connection as they take stock of all the things a former lover haphazardly abandoned at his apartment—a cell phone charger, health food store soaps and shampoos. There’s an imagined intimacy to using their ex’s dejected organic deodorant stick, despite it being, as Smith puts it, “freaking trash”. Still, they can’t let go. Despite the humbling set-up, the song is a breezy, care-free triumph driven by a punchy backbeat and lead guitarist Chris Vanderkooy’s supple, slippery licks.
Benefitting from a bigger budget and a production job from the much-esteemed John Congleton (St. Vincent, Baroness, Spoon), You and Your Friends is a much more dynamic release than Peach Pit’s 2018 debut, Being So Normal. One major shift is how the band now handles their drum production. Whereas Mikey Pascuzzi’s rhythms had been recorded relatively dry in the past, Congleton cross-processes, fuzzes, and finagles each of these latest beats. Take “Puppy Grin”, a Phoenix-like pop banger where an ultra-compressed snare drum stomps mammoth-like alongside dub-style guitar delays and double- tracked vocal harmonies. Vanderkooy gets plenty of chances to shine as well—see the slackened slide guitar intro on the sun-warped “Brian’s Movie,” which also features a series of stylish licks during its fade-out finale.
Though Peach Pit had once described their style as “chewed bubblegum pop”, they take a confectionary swerve on You and Your Friends via their “Black Licorice”. Using a folksy, Andy Shauf-style drawl, Smith outlines the burden a hard-partying person is placing on his friends, ultimately comparing himself to an unwanted piece of black licorice (“all the people that I know would rather leave me in the bowl”). Whatever your take is on the much-maligned candy, Vanderkooy’s tasty, tube-screaming bend motif in the chorus makes the song an irresistible treat, one that their fans will hardly leave behind. That said, the record’s closing trio of extra laid-back numbers have slightly less impressive flavour profiles.
While You and Your Friends homes in on feelings of isolation, Peach Pit are hoping to connect with more fans than ever before—First, obviously, through the release of their major label debut. But as we’re all- going stir crazy at home due to COVID-19, the band recently tweeted that anyone feeling “bored AF” can shoot them a text to keep connected. Anything helps to pass the time, right?
review by Gregory Adams