Peggy Sue’s new album, ‘Vices’ was first described to me as a post – breakup rock and roll album. This description wasn’t wrong, and yet it was still the complete opposite of what I expected. My expectations were that this was going to be some neo – feminist album that anyone going through a breakup would scream along to as they played it at full volume. ‘Vices’ is not that kind of album.
Some of the messaging in this album actively concerns me. For example, in the title song ‘Vices’, the lyrics say, ‘of all your vices/ who’d have thought I’d be the worst of it.’ Whilst the idea is clever and works thematically – it does not exactly suggest that the speaker has much self – worth. She is suggesting that she is a bad habit, which seems like a relatively harsh thing to say. I was incredibly uncomfortable to listening to it. This idea of worth being determined is repeated in ‘Validate Me’, which is a catchy song and has a riff reminiscent of other songs within the genre, but again, the messaging is incredibly problematic. It’s a song that suggests that the only way a woman can be validated is through her relationships or she’s validated when she gets attention from her partner? Whilst Peggy Sue is perhaps subverting the genre of breakup anthems a little, it does not excuse the fact that if you listen closely to some of the lyrics, she is ultimately promoting the idea of being defined by a relationship. I could be wrong, her lyrics could mean something else , but that was my impression. ‘Validate Me’ is also a really catchy song and has been stuck in my head for about a week, so I guess that’s something, but I still don’t like what it’s saying.
Peggy Sue is a really talented vocalist, her voice sometimes taking on an eerie quality which provides a nice contrast to the instrumentals. Sometimes it is hard to understand what the lyrics are , but the songs have a nice sound. The instrumentals don’t seem to differentiate from one song to another and so the songs tend to blend into each other, which makes it relatively hard to tell where one song ends, and another begins.
This was a hard album to review, because I was more aware of what I didn’t like about it more than anything. I think it was that I thought that some of the lyrics were problematic and so my entire opinion of the album became a little bit more biased, but I stand by it. It’s clever and the riffs are catchy, but it is not a particularly memorable album and not one that I would personally listen to voluntarily outside of reviewing it.
[Katerina Partolina Schwartz – she/ her – @katpschwartz]