Review of You & I Album by The Pierces

There was a time when New York based Sisters Catherine and Allison Pierce, aka The Pierces, almost gave up on making music together; it was Coldplay's Guy Berryman that was saddened by said rumour and instead encouraged the sisters to continue doing what they do well and gave them a little helping hand along the way. The result is this album, You & I, a laid back, well-produced offering featuring Berryman himself amongst other musicians on loan.

You & I, The Pierces' fourth full length release, opens with 'You'll Be Mine', an easy going pop track complete with subtle synths, gentle string backings and the smooth combined lead vocals of the Pierce sisters. Comparable perhaps to the less flamboyant of Kylie numbers, 'You'll Be Mine' also sounds flavours of other contemporary female vocalists such as Duffy and Sia; The Pierces' vocals also host a similar, whole-sounding strength and maturity to Clare Maguire, something that is evident too in the flexibility yet consistency of the dual female vocals throughout the album. Maintaining something of a folk edge together with a thread of the music of the likes of Fleetwood Mac and Joni Mitchell, inspiration from The Pierces' musical upbringing, 'It Will Not Be Forgotten' sounds the same kind of steady paced tempo and easy going blend only this time with a strummed guitar also in the blend; it is with the third track, however, that The Pierces really start to show their potential. 'Love You More' opens with more of a swaggering, biting guitar introduction and in general sounds a more confident pound which then moves into a big chorus.

The Pierces You & I Album

Into 'We Are Stars' The Pierces' vocal tones, reminiscent of The Cardigans' Nina Persson, are very smooth and listenable despite the pretty straightforward and predictable writing that the duos' vocals soar over. Amongst others on the album, the instrumental has quite a Coldplay-esque quality to it, especially in Berryman's distinctive bass part; throughout the album there are appearances from Berryman's band-mate, drummer Will Champion, Howling Bells' drummer Glenn Moule and also Matt Romano of Little Joy as well as Berryman himself playing electric guitar, bass and percussion together with Allison Pierce's sensitive acoustic guitar. 'We Are Stars' then concludes with echoing vocals singing over solo strummed acoustic guitar to contrast the full band blend that preceded through the rest of the track.

While 'Glorious' again glimmers at the previously suggested folk inspiration with violins providing backings to the catchy vocal melodies throughout, 'The Good Samaritan' sounds heavy similarity to Nancy Sinatra's 'Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) with its' sultry blues feeling and solo vibrato-laden vocals over gentle strummed electric guitar. The track remains down-tempo and calm throughout, and sparse in terms of accompaniment all but for vocal harmonies and gentle suggestions of tuned percussion. Returning to the fuller band sound, however, 'Kissing You Goodbye' sounds disappointingly recycled; both a regurgitation of their own material and something familiar from The Pierces' contemporaries. This is then contrasted by 'Close My Eyes', a chilled number with a slightly R&B/funky type groove with smooth guitar chords contrasted by stabbing string backings before pushing into a stronger, classic pop chorus. Of the most beautiful moments on the album, 'Space & Time' is a more stripped down 6/8 ballad with a moving double bass line underpinning a laid-back jazzy kind of vibe; it's gentle and oozes class with pull backs a plenty and wonderfully clear soaring vocals, particularly during the chorus.

The down-tempo, delicate, acoustic guitar-accompanied vocals of 'Put Your Records On' sound a peaceful and tranquil vibe with subtle and smooth backing harmonies together with gently twinkling glimmers of glockenspiel. The blend is gradually joined by soothing whispers of smooth strings which compliment the sensitive and serene arrangement and bring the album to a lush conclusion with one of its' finest moments. You & I may not be overwhelmingly amazing, but is instead dusted with moments of musical beauty to just lay back and enjoy; a happy compromise for now.

Hannah Spencer

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