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Album ReviewsBlog post

Album Review: Levellers – Peace

Levellers1588928575327571Release Date – 14/08/2020

Record Label – On The Fiddle Recordings

For Fans Of… – The Waterboys, New Model Army

 

A punk attitude combined with Dylan-esque storytelling, Peace is Levellers’ first album of new music in almost a decade and it’s fair to say the Brighton-based folk-rockers sound as good as ever.

As can be expected with a Levellers record, Peace is heavily politicised and takes a say-it-how-it-is approach to modern society. The aspirational album title denotes the band’s desire to find peace in a world that appears to be crumbling around them amidst both global and personal turmoil. While mainly focusing their energy on a collection of current affairs, whether it’s the environment, extreme political manifestos or cultural self-destruction as a result of social media, there are also breath-taking tales of real-life events woven throughout Peace.

One of the standout features of the album is the use of unconventional sounds and processed electric guitar tones infused within a more traditional folk sound of acoustic guitar and fiddle, with ‘Generation Fear’ offering fans a taste of the full spectrum of signature Levellers’ sounds. There is also a discerning shift between the contrasting vocal stylings on display, with Mark Chadwick’s melodic vocals on ‘Food Roof Family’ and ‘Our Future’ giving way to Simon Friend’s harsher vocal delivery on ‘Four Boys Lost’ and ‘Calling Out’. The constant fluctuations of both vocal and instrumental sounds mean Peace has a new flavour to every track, keeping things interesting without the upbeat tempo having to drop. Towards the tail end of the album, ‘Albion & Phoenix’ sees Chadwick and Friend sharing the vocal spotlight in a pleasing blend of contrasting vocals – perhaps a couple more songs featuring both singers in more prominent duets would add further flames to what is already a fire album.

There is also a strong punk vibe throughout Peace, something which goes hand-in-hand with the political nature of folk music from a cultural perspective but perhaps seems a less obvious combination musically. The chugging bass and rhythm guitar lines in ‘Four Boys Lost’ underpin a more graceful acoustic guitar and fiddle top-line to create an easy-listening tune delicately poised alongside a fierce punk backdrop.

Upbeat, danceable grooves spread underneath a powerful folk-rock backdrop coupled with an uncanny ability to weave intriguing storytelling into every tune gives Peace an edge that is rarely found from a band that has spanned three decades. Peace shows Levellers clear ability to update aspects of their sound and proves their talent in moving with the times to produce stunning records thirty years after their debut release. Although they’ve always been relative outsiders in terms of the mainstream spotlight, it’s abundantly clear there’s a sub-cultural world in which Levellers have always and will always thrive.

 

Recommended Tracks – ‘Born That Way’, ‘Albion & Pheonix’

Rating – 8/10

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