The Pierces - You & I
Catherine Pierce and Allison Pierce are sisters who are as easy on the ear as they are on the eye. Since 2000, they've been plugging away at their craft as duo The Pierces, releasing three albums previous to You & I but failing to make much of an impression on either side of the Atlantic. Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama but moving to New York where they upped their cool cred on the city music scene and chummed up with The Strokes, the girls almost called it a day until Coldplay bassist Guy Berryman gave them his vote of confidence and offered to produce their new album. The end result finally gets its UK release this week and, following a notable appearance of Later with Jools Holland in October and impressive airplay for new single 'You'll Be Mine', it looks like the girls made the right decision and will finally get some deserved recognition. See, Coldplay aren't all that bad...
You & I is something of a left-turn for The Pierces, despite travelling straight down the line. Some of the kooky edge of previous albums has been replaced by a much mellower yet gorgeously gauzy approach that envelopes from the start. The aforementioned 'You'll Be Mine' you've probably already heard, and it's a fine introduction that bears all the hallmarks of the majority of the album's songs: a classic Fleetwood Mac-style sound that effectively combines pop, rock and folk elements, emotive and soulful vocals enhanced by lush girl-on-girl harmonies, and a fairytale whimsy to the lyrics ('prick your finger on the spinning wheel but don't make a sound') that only adds to the almost otherworldly vibe the girls project. Sure, they may look like they'd be comfortable at home on the streets of NYC but they'd probably be a lot happier dancing around in shawls at Woodstock to the music of a bygone era that You & I is so clearly influenced by.
There are highlights aplenty, although a special mention should be given to rousing love letter to life 'Glorious', which is waiting to be this generation's 'California Dreaming' if enough people catch on, and 'Love You More' with its underlying seductive yet predatory guitar line from Albert Hammond, Jr. Both 'The Good Samaritan' and 'I Put Your Records On' strip things down to acoustic basics and highlight the vocals, while songs like 'It Will Not Be Forgotten' and the beautiful 'We Are Stars' (dare you not to feel all warm and fuzzy when they croon 'I see nothing worse than to sail this universe without you') are destined to soundtrack widescreen montages during the third act of sobfest telly shows or films.
A week after the overblown pop pomp of Lady Gaga's second album release, You & I from The Pierces is a most welcome change of pace. While Ms Germanotta may look overseas for her Europop and classic Brit rock inspiration, her fellow New York gals are happy to update the musical heritage of their home country. Anyone who enjoyed Lissie's debut Chasing a Tiger last year will want to check out You & I. It's an album that doesn't boast surprises by the dozen, but that doesn't make it any less an enjoyable listen and I wouldn't be surprised if a good few newcomers to the band develop a sizeable girl crush. Solid stuff.