Rock music where the shoegaze comes from the vocals and synths over the guitars.
Piel reminds me a little of Curve, a chonky rock band from the 90’s that made rock you could dance to. Curve was heavy, raucous and angry, often with vocals that would coo and purr at you. Piel on the other hand, dedicate their entire sound to the rhythmic flow of smooth rock that refuses to put a hair out of place. Every song sounds like a rock anthem but smoothed out like cookie dough – sweet and beautifully creamy.
Their lead single from “A.K.A. Ma” is “Custodian” and it perfectly showcases exactly what I mean. The vocals from Tiki are like soothing whispers and otherworldly angel auras. Often layered up and parsed with effects they provide a drive of femininity across the music and that sets up the hazy world Piel exists in. On anthemic tracks like “Lost in Translation” and the hypnotic “Reach For Me” – it’s genuinely tricky to tell where guitars end and synths begin. They bleed across into each other and form a surge of musical honey that covers everything. Underneath the drums pulsate semi rock semi dance like to bring into focus a rhythmic trance. It’s so well done and each track is built to enhance this feeling.
Piel isn’t a one-trick pony though. There are lots of styles you can manipulate into an angelic vocal first rock push. “The New” is a chaotic high-speed rock track that places the vocals loudest like a bubblegum rock piece, then the synths second. The actual raging guitars and drums sit low in the mix so you can hear the chaos but it’s soothed by the vocals. “Easy As It Feels” is like a noir synth piece that feels as alive as it does numb. “The Sound” is the token ballad – or as close as it gets. It feels like an early Natalie Imbruglia track if she would have gone full electro-rock on us. Beautiful but with a quirky indie streak thrown in.
“A.K.A. MA” is dedicated to Tiki’s mum who passed away in 2019. This is a superb rock album that manages to feel like a flow state of shoegaze rock but with vocals and synths leading the way over guitars. I’m absolutely certain her mum would be proud – it is a stunning release and a must-have for all rock fans coming into 2022.
Recommended track: Custodian
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