If you like your salad tossed with a side of raunch, Peaches is your girl. Or if you prefer, Peaches doesn’t have a dirty mind, a dirty mind has Peaches. If anything her obsequious relationship with lightly-mitigated sleaze has obscured almost everything else about her, like the fact that nobody ever blended Tina Turner and Anne Carlisle any better, or that in a wiggy way she’s more of a role model for hipster girls than, say, Amanda Palmer. Name-dropping aside, Peaches needed at least a salvageable record after the botched histrionics of Impeach My Bush. I Feel Cream is such a record.
Meretricious or not, Peaches has real musicality and when you put it over production as shrewd as this she edges closer and closer to legitimacy (as opposed to relevancy which isn’t ever fully applicable to someone like her.) It’s the cautious case I Feel Cream makes for most of its modest length, that the bonkers persona isn’t all that’s discussible. Most of the machinations, the lyrics and mood of the album, are hers, although Simian Mobile Disco, Digitalism and even Soulwax stop by at various points. The record finds a dishy sophistication that pitches Peaches closer to disco than she’s ever gotten. Disco being all we’re told to pay attention to lately, it’s no wasted strategy.
The title track, with its spacy vocal over impeccably banging progressions, is maybe the best example yet of Peaches done right. On the disconcerting “Mommy Complex” she raps with the usual indelicacy (“are you pregnant, man?/ I say good luck/ c-section, combo, tummy tuck“) but sounds sort of ruefully sweet, somehow. Rapping is where both her money and her mouth are, where we start talking about shit and fans, but most of the time there’s an altogether different tone. It’s…ironic, maybe? Which isn’t to say she’s not herself, but lines like “big trouble in little mangina” and “never go to bed without a piece of raw meat” are even more priceless with a little bit of distance.
“Lose You” and “Mud” are intricate little Simian Mobile Disco puzzles, lots of interlocking squiggles and analog dunk-dunk. The latter is a marvel of control, keeping it quick and binary before and after a grinding, sludgy midsection. “Mud” also speaks, possibly, to the more comic perils of having a tawdry rep, like Britney’s “Piece Of Me” except it doesn’t suck. “Champagne/ damn shame/ whatcha gonna do when they drag your name” indeed. “Billionaire” finds the finest filigree between electro and disco, which is funny because she kinda sings it like Gwen Stefani and kinda raps it like Kanye. Or maybe it’s that it’s written like Kanye: “debonaire/ in my Fred Astaire footwear,” “too much salt in my diet/ quiet riot.” Oddly enough, this one also doesn’t suck. (She also channels Gina of “Ooh..Ah..Just A Little Bit” infamy on “Trick or Treat” and does bad meat-rock for “Show Stopper”—these are trifles.) I said the record approximates the spirit of disco, but perhaps its best song is “Talk To Me,” which has all the ramshackle rollick of a really special PJ Harvey deep cut. I wouldn’t say she’s growing up but she’s definitely growing.