Peel x Y2J

Los Angeles duo Peel have announced their debut album Acid Star, out March 29th via Innovative Leisure, and shared two singles. Y2Jopens with a wash of deceptive dream pop before breaking into psychedelic dance, whereas Acid Star is a hallucinatory blend of acoustic guitars. “Our first sessions were for fun to experiment around, trying to come up with rhythmic patterns from memory of pop songs on the radio from when we were growing up” explain the band, “Looking back, we opened a channel that would become Acid Star, where a large swarm of ideas flowed through in a very short amount of time.”

The two songs are a perfect preview of an album that swirls dance-music paint onto a rock canvas. Inspired in part by genre-bending Creation Records bands like Primal Scream and Madchester groups like Happy Mondays, Acid Star expands on the post-punk and industrial edge of early Peel, adding layers of psychedelia, dance, and even reverb soaked freak folk, as seen on the title track. Watch the video for “Y2J” below, directed by the band’s Sean Cimino.

The creative partnership of Sean Cimino and Isom Innis, their bond was initially formed as touring members of Foster The People (now both official members live & on record). The two developed a musical language all their own over the years, ideas coalescing organically until the eventual birth of Peel. Their 2020 self-titled EP channeled influences from Aphex Twin to New Order, and yielded the “Citizen X,” which garnered the band an audience and appeared in the 2021 edition of EA Sports FIFA. 

For Acid Star, the duo began by tapping into the music that they liked as kids. That is, the music they gravitated toward before they had “any taste or judgment,” as Innis puts it. “If you think too hard, and you try too hard, you can kind of ruin the expression that comes out,” he adds. “But there’s something about trying to recreate a song that was in my DNA before taste came into it that just sounded, listening back, like it had a lot of energy and life.”

The opener, “Y2J,” was one of the results of that childhood-song experiment, and is, appropriately enough, named in reference to Y2K. “Climax,” a song inspired by the 2018 Gaspar Noé movie of the same name, is a rocket-ship ride of a tune, as much within Nile Rodgers’ wheelhouse as Spoon’s. “OMG” renders a psychedelic experience Isom shared with his wife in sonic form, putting the duo's studio proficiency to work in service of the track's rich tapestry. 

Each side of the album is bookmarked by ghostly ballads—“Acid Star” and “The Cloak”—both driven by acoustic guitar and gentle vocals that push home the crucially melodic underbelly of Peel itself. “You’re smiling, laughing there, my acid star,” sings Cimino on the former song, an ode to an idea of a certain ephemeral and untouchable type of rock god. “That lyric is a tribute to the power of words beyond our everyday use,” Cimino says. “I was thinking of a term for someone, something, or an idea that is so meaningful—almost too important.” When it came time to decide what to name the album itself, it was right there in front of them.

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