New band of the day – No 858: The Pierces

Balancing ballast with beauty, these two sisters from Alabama offer a rocked-up folk take on Fleetwood Mac

Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama.

The lineup: Catherine Pierce (vocals, guitar), Alison Pierce (vocals, guitar).

The background: The Pierces aren't new as such, but they may well be new to you, and that's no indictment of your ability or inclination to hunt down the obscure and unknown – it's just a fact. The US duo's first three albums weren't made widely available over here and precious little was written about them, to the extent that Polydor, which has just signed them, are going to be presenting them as a Brand New Act.

Anyway, ass-covering justification for their inclusion here today aside, what are the Pierces like? Well, they're a couple of Alabama girls who sound quite a bit like Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac. What, today again? That's right: yesterday's pair, Tamaryn, did shimmery shoegazey things to the Mac/Nicks' witchy oeuvre, while the Pierce sisters offer a rocked-up folk take on the same. This is less an indicator of Fleetwood Mac's huge influence – although they've probably been referenced more times in this column these past few years than the Stones and Beatles combined – merely evidence that when women of a certain artistic disposition bearing guitars approach a mic, more often than not they will produce a sound like this. Not everyone can achieve it – Courtney Love, for example, attempted an album of edgy MOR on Hole's Celebrity Skin, with mixed results – but when it works there's nothing better.

Not that the Pierces are leftfield types or avant-gardists doing arch, knowing things to the Fleetwood Mac catalogue. They're not an indie in-joke or exercise in pastiche. They do come from an arty, bohemian place – their mum and dad were Viz Modern Parents-style hippies who home-schooled their children – and they do now live in New York, but they're not Williamsburg hipsters. This is roots music with ambitions towards adult contemporary – one of them sang on the Ryan Adams album Heartbreaker. There is credibility here (TV syncs for Gossip Girl and Dexter hint at the Pierces' lyrical quirks), but the point isn't to score points on the cool-o-meter. It's to sell vast quantities of records.

They're like Lady Antebellum, only with lush production and gorgeous melodies. So actually not that much like Lady Antebellum. Their forthcoming album has been produced by Coldplay's bass player, Guy Berryman, and also features the band's drummer, Will Champion. We could quite happily die without hearing another Coldplay record (except Viva La Vida, and even the provenance of that tune is in doubt, as was widely reported), but that band's rhythm section has given the music substantial heft, allowing the girls to balance out ballast with beauty. What this essentially means is a song like You'll Be Mine, their next single – mooted for early 2011 release – satisfies the Pierces' penchant for 70s radio melodies while meeting the exigencies of contemporary production. Now all the girls need to do is have affairs with Berryman and Champion and they've got the material for their very own Rumours right there.

The buzz: "The perfect background music to an amusement park created and run by Tim Burton. Wonderful, whimsical, eclectic and soaring" – Michael Jones,

The truth: Their early music was quirkier and folkier, but their new stuff is mainstream, streamlined Radio 2-friendly MOR in excelsis.

Most likely to: Sell out.

Least likely to: Worry about selling out.

What to buy: Love You More is released by Polydor on 25 October, followed by You'll Be Mine early next year.

File next to: Fleetwood Mac, Lady Antebellum, Dixie Chicks, the Heartthrobs.


Thursday's new band: Talay Riley.


Paul Lester

The GuardianTramp

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