On Choir of Echoes, the English trio Peggy Sue (Katy Beth Young, Rosa Slade and Olly Joyce) all but abandon the quirky folk-pop that grouped them initially with fellow British nu-folkies like Mumford & Sons and Noah and the Whale. Instead, they expanded on those traditions and modernize them with synthesized vocals, resulting in an album that feels both darker and slightly more disjointed.
It’s a compelling reinvention, however, and even the hardest left turns on Choir of Echoes showcase the band’s strengths. Young and Slade’s harmonies have always carried the band, and on songs like “Come Back Around” and “Two Shots,” the chilling, reverberating “ahs” and “ohs” evoke the symbolism of the album’s title.
And on lead single “Idle,” a foreboding ballad about unemployment, and “Longest Day of the Year Blues” they prove they remain as powerful when they strip out the effects. “How Heavy the Quiet That Grew Between Your Mouth and Mine” leaves Young and Slade’s voices completely bare, their lines weaving around each other’s like an Appalachian folk song. The style has always worked well for Peggy Sue, but the disconnect with the glossier fare leaves an odd taste. Next time around, maybe they should either own their new sound completely or stick to their older one.