Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Pat Stolley
So much love has gone into the gutter for Rosa Rex and Katy Klaw of the English band Peggy Sue, that they don't know what to do with it all. They've taken their spoiled and rotten romances, opened the lid on the garbage can and dropped them in, alongside the moldy food that no one would touch and all of the other shit that they want out of their homes and out of their lives. Things have turned on them and it's created for them some fertile ground for their writings, all of which have become songs full of examples of ingratitude, mistreatment and ire - though all of it is filtered through the bathing beauty of a country evening's soft moon glow. Katy Beth Young and Rosa Slade sing about their collective skins holding the light from the beach where they and these old lovers first met on "Lover Gone," the lead-off track from the group's short EP. It all sounds fine and dandy until the kicker - where the leaving occurs, or when we realize that there's been a sacrifice made to another's more prolonged happiness, but that there is only one winning party. It's a track that flexes muscle - the kind of pink and stringy muscle that only becomes apparent and only gets used or exposed after it's no longer useful, when it can change nothing. It's the muscle that kicks in when the safety of one's own room is surrounding them and the dim cleansing of a drunken evening of woeful pity and a new proclamation to buck up and get back out there has occurred. You've reluctantly determined - by way of this jury of one - that you're better than that and you're gonna make it, goddamn it.
Young, Slade and drummer Olly make the kind of music that weeps on itself, but never enough that it feels soggy, just miserable enough to make it affirming for others. There are countless tales of getting torn up by an old lover and the postscript is always kind of dreadful. It's as if the characters they're speaking for are always those who have been wronged, horribly wronged and unappreciated. They gave and they gave and they gave and then they were wiped away or discarded like the bathwater. "Lover Gone" features the ladies singing about a long relationship ending, with the line, "I gave to you four years, but couldn't bring myself to give you more," and it sounds like a piece of a Tegan & Sara song remade into a Frightened Rabbit song, bleeding out and climbing into the pretty blues that they're coasting in.
It's been long division, their love has been, but they're becoming hardened by the process and just trying to get the right answer without needing to do the work to get there. Or, they'd take it at least -- as long as the result was satisfying. But, then again, these lumps are the spices that make everything else in a relationship interesting, so there must be something to them. They sing, "If you tell me my heart's on fire, I'll let it burn," and it's a telling stance, suggesting that the shards that cut us and the jagged lanes that we follow anywhere are jagged for a reason. They make us shout out in pain, but they also allow for greater joy should they be navigated with precision. It's at those points that love find's its worth and doesn't just stick in the craws.
*Essay originally published March, 2010
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