Peach Pit, a four-member indie band, describes themselves as “chewed bubblegum pop.” Charming, goofy, slightly bitter and very real, the Vancouver foursome is nothing if not relatable. Peach Pit released their sophomore album, “You and Your Friends,” on April 3. The album offers 14 tracks of “sad boy” indie surf rock whose lyrics depict the everyday human condition in all its heartbreakingly mundane glory.
Peach Pit formed back in 2014 in a realization of the dreams of high school pals Neil Smith (vocals and rhythmic guitar) and Chris Vanderkooy (lead guitar). Once bassist Peter Wilton and drummer Mikey Pascuzzi hopped on board, Peach Pit was complete. The band released an EP in 2016, “Sweet FA,” and their first full-length album, “Being So Normal,” in 2017.
The releases launched their careers and boosted the band’s name recognition, but Peach Pit’s latest album, “You and Your Friends,” has been met with the most buzz and critical acclaim thus far, safely securing the foursome’s spot in the hearts of indieheads. The youngish band members are delighted by their newfound success. In the words of Smith in an interview with DIY, “I’m getting paid to travel the world and play music with my three best friends? Pinch me.”
And if indie tropes are your thing, aesthetically speaking, Peach Pit has got you covered. The four bandmates come across as overgrown high school buddies and parade their campy appeal around in the form of bizarre, color-coordinated outfits and faux-serious, over-faded photoshoots. In a promotion video for the album, the members of the band were filmed partaking in various odd hobbies, like unicycling and flame throwing. It’s cute, right? Peach Pit hopes you think so.
While their performatively offbeat personas are actually quite mainstream for the indie genre, Peach Pit’s musical output is more novel. The group’s essential sound emanates from the two lead guitars. The distorted electronic growls of Smith’s rhythmic guitar complement Vanderkooy’s puckish major riffs in the quintessential surf rock style. Imagine Jerry Garcia’s picking funneled through an outer space-themed amplifier, then again through a beach-themed compressor, and you’ve got a feel for their sound.
The bass guitar and drums are in no particular rush and fill out the songs in a laid-back fashion. The role of the bass and drums shouldn’t be understated though. Peach Pit’s songs are rhythmically driven and thus framed by these instruments.
Lyrically, “You and Your Friends” is casual and conversational. In an interview, Smith confided that the album is “a collection of songs about me, people that the band and I care about, and some of the old friends we’ve had over the years.” He goes on to explain that the album’s songs are all “written from true stories, some … exaggerated more than others.”
The album’s content is true to its title. Though the songs are about the bandmates and their friends, the content is so relatable that it might just as well be about you and your friends.
I can very easily imagine listening to a friend of mine tell me laughingly, “I’ve been using my ex’s deodorant that she left in my apartment because I ran out, and we’re not even speaking!” as per the plot of track nine, “Shampoo Bottles.” The song’s premise is hilarious; the singer complains about the ineffectiveness of the deodorant, citing the “organic hoo-hah, from one of your health food stores.” The song’s genius lies in its decidedly unglamorous intimacy, which makes it real and relatable. Peach Pit tends more toward the tone of colloquial chatting than of poetry.
At its heart, “Shampoo Bottles,” and much of the album’s overall lyrical content, is about the mundane aftermath of heartbreak and the way the mundanity itself serves as a heartbreak all its own. While the verses of the song remain comedic, the chorus reveals the sadness driving the singer to complain about shampoo and cellphone chargers: “I’ve been leaving you in radio silence/ Though I’d love to catch a pass/ Waited long enough that I could never call you/ Baby, how f—– is that?/ And it’s all just so forgettable/ ‘Til I’m sitting with your stuff alone/ Man, why can’t I just let it go?”
Instead of glorifying breakups from a high and mighty perch, Peach Pit chooses to highlight an everyday scenario we can all picture ourselves in. It’s easy to see how every song can derive from their own experiences and those of their friends: The feelings and experiences are down-to-earth and so universal.
In the second track of the album, “Black Licorice,” the lead singer toes the line between self-deprecating jokester and grouchy teen. “I’m just black licorice/ And all the people that I know/ Would rather leave me in the bowl,” whines Smith during each chorus in a near monotone. The leading electric guitar moans the song’s signature riff back to the singer in a mocking response. The playful dialogue between the singer and his guitar redeems the song’s gripes, suggesting that the complaints are aware of their own hilarity.
We can listen to the album as a collection of casual stories — maybe not the sort of stories you’d read in the New Yorker but rather the stories that come out after a couple of drinks with college buddies around the dinner table late at night. The story of the girl who played games with you and wasted your time, the time I thought I saw my ex’s car outside, the time he got in a fight at the Thursday ballgame. Each song might be based on something mentioned by a friend, blown up into a song that draws the raw sentiments out of the experience’s everydayness.
The band has created a concept album of sorts, whether they’re aware of it or not. Peach Pit’s stories could easily be our own, complete with the grumbling, insecurity and longing that make us human and filled out by the light-hearted, self-deprecating spirit that makes being human bearable. Something here hits home, and we can’t help but sing along.