The Pierces – review

Bush Hall, London

Catherine and Allison Pierce of Alabama were on the brink of packing up their guitars for good when Guy Berryman, after hearing their third album, called them with an offer to produce. The Coldplay bassist's endorsement transformed the Pierces from one of those quirky little groups that fill out major label rosters into a priority act.

Having been handed another chance, the Pierces clearly don't intend to waste it: their new songs are honed and honeyed, the sisters' keening country harmonies resting atop smooth guitar pop. The aching and swelling melody of We Are Stars is destined to feature in a thousand romcom montages: it's difficult to hear it without picturing Matthew McConaughey dashing into the arms of Kate Hudson. Between songs, Catherine offers lengthy thanks to the magazine that is sponsoring tonight's gig, and makes sure no one who might be their ally goes unmentioned.

But they aren't completely giving up on their former oddness: single Love You More, with its furiously hammered guitar, somehow combines backwoods gothic with MOR: it's heartstopping and extraordinary. It's also an example of how the Pierces are able to take genres and tilt them slightly off their axis. Nevertheless, one can understand why mainstream America didn't throw its arms around songs such as Secret, a beguilingly strange waltz that warns: "Two can keep a secret if one of them is dead." The kind of playful cleverness the Pierces dealt in is rarely rewarded by the mass market.

They finish with Glorious, which could not sound any more tailored for ubiquity if had been engineered by scientists with degrees in Radio 2 playlist manufacturing. It's just 60s enough, just sunny enough, and just individual enough, and it's not a bit odd. It is also impossible to shake from one's head, and that's surely the point for the Pierces.


Michael Hann

The GuardianTramp

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