Friends Records, 2016
LP / CD / cassette / digital / streaming / ltd.ed.honey jar + USB
Honey, the second full-length album from Baltimore-based duo Peals, elevates their exploratory sound to majestic new heights of otherworldly instrumental pop while preserving the intimacy of their live shows and earlier recordings.
William Cashion (Future Islands) and Bruce Willen (ex-Double Dagger) recorded much of Honey in Willen’s Baltimore home. Together they build rapturous melodies of interlocking and looped guitars that channel kosmische musik, ‘70s Eno, and new wave hooks à la Robert Smith into above-the-clouds dream soundtracks. Unexpected and delicate textures—wind, bells, the whirs of a film projector—situate listeners in the elemental immediacy of Peals performances, which take place in art galleries or open fields as often as traditional music venues.
Each of Honey’s nine tracks brim with emotional resonance. Album opener “Become Younger” lifts off with bright sine-waves of sound that gradually layer into an ethereal two-guitar orchestra. Stunner “Essential Attitudes” transmits prismatic sonic shadings over minimalist percussion (created by Willen on his guitar), joined by an exultant bass line from Cashion. The lush “Punk Migration” finds legend James Iha joining the group on sublime infusions of guitar, keyboard, bass, and voice. On closing cut “Koan 2,” plucked campfire refrains flutter and flirt before gradually receding, setting the listener back on the ground just as effortlessly as they took flight nine excursions earlier.
Recorded over a three-year span and mixed by Chester Endersby Gwazda (Dan Deacon, Future Islands), Peals’ sophomore album triumphantly refines and expands the sound palette they mapped out on their 2013 debut, Walking Field. A journey at once meditative, transportive, and eminently accessible, Honey is one of those special albums that creates an entire world—and then invites the listener to populate it with thoughts and dreams of their own.
— Eric Allen Hatch