Peach ‘Audiopeach’ (Epic/Mute, 1997)

Aside from its troubling “what if?” premise, two things stayed with me about the 1998 film ‘Sliding Doors’, and neither of these were Gwyneth Paltrow’s British accent. The first was John Hannah explaining that we are born with a full and comprehensive knowledge of The Beatles’ lyrics. The second was the inclusion of ‘On My Own’ by Peach on its soundtrack.

Fronted by vocalist Lisa Lamb and arising from a dance-oriented one-off project called Neuronic, the other members of Peach were former B-Movie guitarist Paul Statham and S’Express producer Pascal Gabriel.

The trio were already known to me due to my ongoing obsession with all things released by Mute. I’d acquired two of their singles – ‘On My Own’ and ‘From This Moment On’ – from a stall in the central courtyard at the University of Essex, where I was studying. Those two singles were both poignant, heartbreaking songs. Each and every synth sound seemed to be freighted with heavy emotion, while Lamb’s vocal was as devastating and stirring as the very best torch singers. 

It took me a long time before I purchased ‘Audiopeach’, regrettably the only album that Lamb, Statham and Gabriel ever recorded together. A sticker on the front of my CD tells me I bought this from a branch of Cash Converters. I don’t remember which, but I do remember playing it and feeling a little like it was too adjacent to the upbeat Europop dominating parts of the 1990s musical landscape at the time. It went into the rack and there it languished until a few years ago, when I was preparing to chat to Gabriel about his Stubbleman project.

Something that I’d have previously overlooked on a first listen, like ‘Deep Down Together’ with its thunderously hard 4/4 rhythms, sinewy ‘I Feel Love’ synth sequence and soulful backing vocals from Billy Mackenzie, connects with me in a different way today. I hear rapture and euphoria, passion and urgency, nuance and subtlety where I previously only heard the urgent grid of beats. Elsewhere, the impassioned highlight that is ‘Perfect World’ rests atop a chunky break and jangly Balearic guitars, the perfect vehicle for an understated vocal from Lamb concerned with hurt and rejection.

Key to this album is undoubtedly its highly detailed production ethic – intricate Spector-esque layering, an ABBA-ish proficiency for heart-wrenching key changes – qualities that Statham and Gabriel would apply liberally to the artists they went on to work with. Any of the tracks could have been pop hits at the time. That they weren’t remains a mystery, and that Peach didn’t record a follow-up is an absolute tragedy.

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