[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
Peeling Grey are a tricky bunch to cover because of their versatility; there’s no discernable pattern to latch on to in their work and before anyone gets uppity, they could care less about who people say they sound like. This is a band who don’t hide their influences, opting instead to utilize them as accents rather than templates. Form your own opinions based on hearing them and for god’s sake don’t look for a formula. By this I mean that they write their songs for themselves and no one else, there’s no pandering to the kiddies in an attempt to suit their tastes and there are most definitely NOT the homages which my generation have unfortunately started looking for. Life is just fine now, everyone, put the Sisters vinyl down and move away from the Aqua-Net.
They are a relentlessly perfectionist outfit, our four lads. ‘Our Sky’s Falling’ is the result of four years effort and these ten pieces certainly are testament to how much midnight oil was burnt in their pursuance. Each note, each word and every element of design has been feverishly slaved over to produce maximum results; others may play the influence shell game so go read them if that’s your thing. Don’t look for it here.
Bands from LA tend to have the hell scrutinized out of them but no matter how hard you try to put them under that microscope, Peeling Grey will elude you. They are surprisingly upbeat in their mood, prefering the solace of introspection to the sort of nihilistic worldview people would expect from such a place. There’s no hard, embittered edge in their work. To be sure, you’ll unearth plenty of pathos and the moody undercurrent running through the last three entries is wonderful indeed. Disguised beneath layers of melancholy synths, brooding vocals, flanged guitar arrangements and spectacular examples of rhythm it lies in wait. As a point of fact, their drummer and bassist are remarkably tasteful by virtue of their restraint.
Now that I think it over, everyone on here is… it runs grey, so gorgeously grey. They peel back each layer with an expert finesse, allowing us to drown in the myriad facets contained therein.
There is humor to be found in their music, the vinyl version includes a tune called “Wednesday is Wrong” which contains a riotous lyrical narrative about a night out which concludes on the floor listening to snippets of conversations with a vicious hangover no doubt to follow later on. Never take their song titles at face value, either: “Wake Up” could be a romantic excursion but it plays out to me like a love/hate letter to the city they’re from… a final admonition for people there to get a clue and move out of the past, god knows there are already enough skeletons in the place but that time and era are over.
By the time I’d gotten to the third cut, “Under Darker Skies” I’d been won over and once “Stars Break Away” began I was well and truly a fan. Peeling Grey understand what songwriting is and even more impressively they are masters of getting their track order correct. With most acts, the first two or three are supposed to bowl you over so you don’t notice the filler in the middle or the “experimental” wankery at the end. ‘Our Sky’s Falling’ is a slow burner which builds dynamics and tension as it goes along; the emotional pull of what they’re writing about is ratcheted up the deeper you go. There are no cast-offs or cutting room floor leavings here, these are well thought out compositions written by a band whose musicianship reveals more complexity each and every time you listen.