New band of the week: Peluché (No 62)

This London trio mix up dub, funk and pop in idiosyncratic but infectious ways

Hometown: South London.

The lineup: Rhapsody Gonzalez (vocals, guitar, synth), Amy Maskell (vocals, guitar, synth) and Sophie Lowe (vocals, drums, synth).

The background: Peluché got together a year or so ago, and they still feel half-formed, in the best possible way. There is a sense here of a band who could go off in myriad directions. They’ve been described as “an 80s punk bubble bath”, which should sound silly and meaningless but actually captures some of their essence – or rather, effervescence. They sound like one of those sassy, fun indie bands who might have emerged out of the post-punk movement, when punk began to experiment more with non-white rhythms and practices. Fans of ESG, Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club and Fela Kuti, they make us think of a lost 2 Tone girl group, a ska indie outfit with a rickety funkiness, dub spaciousness and pop sensibility, one that John Peel might have played on his show circa 1981. It’s indie, only idiosyncratic, with an irresistible infectiousness.

They put the “shack” into “ramshackle”: Peluché’s first demos came out of jam sessions in their self-named “Peluché shed”, and caught the ear of Oli Bayston of Boxed In, who recorded their debut single Ohio soon after their inception. Nothing to do with the Neil Young song of the same name, it has a quirky structure and unison vocals, fidgety guitars, off-kilter harmonies and a rockabilly bassline before mutating into something more calypso-tinged, with twinkly synths and a strange chant of “It’s not a hilly place / I wanna see your face” towards the end. Think Haim, drunk, in Camden, transplanted back to the start of the 80s.

Ohio was issued last October as a double A-side with Cinnamon, a smear of plangent, echoey guitar and a tune that is part hymn, part chant and lyrics that, frankly, baffle: “Get your shovel … get your gun … load it up … Can you run? My teeth are long and strong. They bite through metal and chewing gum.”

Their second single, Sin, was like the Slits with sax, a bizarre amalgam of the spiky and the smooth. The latest release, The Guy With the Gammy Eye, produced by Dan Carey for Speedy Wunderground (the label behind singles by June, Kate Tempest and Toy & Natasha Khan), offers another exuberant tumble of opposites. It’s dreamy and danceable, shimmery and sultry, like Sade on 4AD, or Haim (again) doused in the sort of reverb Martin Hannett used to drench Happy Mondays on Bummed. The vocals are, it has to be said, squeaky, but that seems deliberate, for maximum “wtf!” appeal, and there’s an instrument called the Swarmatron, designed to approximate the buzz of bees. This is striking stuff, evoking a past not pursued, so that it starts to sound like the future. Peluché are a band fumbling in their own sweet way towards something quite original.

The buzz: “The kookiest three-piece in pop.”

The truth: they’re wunderful.

Most likely to: give you a buzz.

Least likely to: stay wunderground for long.

What to buy: The Guy With the Gammy Eye is released by Speedy Wunderground on 10 August.

File next to: Belle Stars, Tom Tom Club, Selecter, ESG.

Links: visit the group’s Facebook page.

Ones to watch: Natasha Kmeto, Mags, Gilligan Moss, Muzi, Mirror Signal.


Paul Lester

The GuardianTramp

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