There is a certain something about two women singing sweet harmonies that has tapped into the human psyche so firmly that to date it is responsible for somewhere in the region of a gazillion dollars-worth of album and ticket sales the world over – and nothing says we, as a species, like a sound more than a gazillion dollars-worth of sales.
The Pierces are among the most reliable architects of sweet harmonies you could wish for and ‘Creation’, the fifth album from the sibling Californians, is awash with the things.
‘Creation’ is a title that you could read much into should you feel like it; the duo are already on record as saying that some of the songs were heavily influenced by Catherine Pierce’s shiny, new relationship with Christian Langdon (previously part of their band on the road and now producer of this album) and then there’s the level of input the pair have in the genesis of their music. Demo tracks being arranged on Catherine’s iPad, editing “finished article” videos so they actually look like they want them to and taking that one step further by creating the entire video for the single ‘Kings’ on their phones. The madness of technology is evidently combining well with prolific creativity (five albums in fourteen years) and allowing The Pierces to do it however, whenever and, given the portable nature of your average phone these days, wherever they like.
So they have produced something that is obviously quite personal, a jar of themselves rendered opaque with their own fingerprints – but is it any good?
Well, sort of. At times it is catchy, intelligent and absorbing – a bit of a treat. At others, quite a lot of others, it is pleasant enough to have on in the background but I doubt it with cause anyone to break off a conversation to listen more closely.
I don’t doubt for a moment that the album charts will feature ‘Creation’ pretty heavily over the next few months – there is nothing offensive about it, it’s well crafted, well produced and predominantly uplifting. It is also classically beautiful in terms of that blended vocal that washes everything with golden, West Coast afternoon sun – however, it is also this uplifting side of it that misses the mark.
Thankfully, it’s a mixed bag so if you rummage in the right areas there are some gems to be found. In particular ‘Kings’, ‘Monsters’ and ‘Come Alive’ all cause your ears to stand to attention (the latter somehow bolts ‘London Calling’, Stevie Nicks and Florence and the Machine together to form a genuinely standout track).
Several of the other songs have an unfortunate habit of blending into the background which means the overall impact isn’t that solid. Some moments get you reaching for the ‘skip’ button –‘Believe in Me’ in particular is a bit of a saccharine, under par sort of experience – which is a shame when you think of some of Allison and Catherine’s previous offerings.
I was left with a taste of ‘almost’– as in, it almost took me away at times, almost sucked me in and told me what it wanted to say. But it didn’t. In a world where the moody, mountains and plains-influenced song writers of the world are in pretty good condition and heavy in numbers, an album that tentatively ventures into the upbeat, at times a bit too sugary territories is almost destined to make a plink rather than a splash.