It’s definitely been a banner year for fans of ramshackle rock. Strange Ranger, Pile, and Horse Jumper Of Love have all released their best ever records and there’s a couple more much-anticipated blasts of meticulous mess to come. Peaer’s music might be wrought with apprehension and import but they don’t need to worry about letting the side down, A Healthy Earth is outstanding.
Opener “Circle” swirls between sparse, brooding bass and superchunky indie crunch in a mix that could never be qualified as catchy, but certainly unexpectedly memorable, and the way band main man Peter Katz drawls “everything is just a fucking circle” will get buried in your head for days only to pop out at the most inappropriate times.
“Like You” starts exactly like an American Football song before getting worked up at the midway point and politely collapsing to a finish, “Commercial” might have some of the most anxious lyrics here (from the perspective of a paranoid baby boomer) but definitely has the biggest, most notable riffs and melodies, and “Joke” finds the Brooklyn trio somehow channelling Slint and Weezer at the same time.
The skin over this thing is excellent then but the bones are just as brilliant. For a record that sounds like it could fall apart at any moment, A Healthy Earth is, apparently, meticulously well-constructed. Peaer declare that it has been made using a classical concept called tone painting, a technique in which a song’s subject matter is reflected in the sounds that that make it. Like when the band use a circle-of-fifths progression in “Circle” or when the bass clarinet solo in “Ollie”, a song about Katz’s dog, is directly inspired by the energy of a puppy running around. That these things sound equally like they could be real or could be completely made up to mess with music journalists is just incredibly on-brand.
Not every song feels as essential as Peaer might have designed it to be and the whole album stares at its shoes a little too much, but the end result is a record that rewards multiple listens, turns odd rock into oddly addictive experience, and truly stands out. I give it an animated house cat out of five.