By Liz Levine
Shreveport’s The Peekers are dreamers, a sextet of starry-eyed youths who present their ideas of life and love while floating miles above the rest of us, where even the bad times have a sugary sheen. Formed when a bassist and a drummer joined two happy couples who liked to hang around writing love songs, their 60s pop, harmony-obsessed songs on debut Life In The Air couldn’t be more suggestive of a close group of pals sharing in their mutual passions. That they sweat optimism through every pore might irk the humans among us, to say nothing of lovelorn loners who prefer to brood in peace, save the odd night of smearing on black eyeliner and scaring young children. But bothersome they are not – The Peekers speak of a love we’d all like to find rather than the apparently awesome one the majority of them have successfully achieved.
There’s hope in their harmonies, the densely layered words suggesting a mutual experience rather than a single narrator’s emotions, shouting from the rooftops rather than gushing in a diary. “Sweet Singin' Birds” is a straight out of Grease sleepover tell-all, where Brittney Maddox’s Jenny Lewis-does-Broadway voice leads a chorus of echoing teens in a song about her bf. On “Gather It All,” the group’s Beatles obsession is betrayed in the guitar line, as shared boy/girl vocals drive singsongy verses before exploding into an alarmingly catchy chorus. Dreamy and tempo-changing, everyone contributes in a fluttering a capella-worthy stretch, reminiscent – strange as it may seem — of a certain passage in En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind.”
As the record progresses, the Beatles influence stays, and a healthy dose of Beach Boys rounds out the group’s focus on that era’s brand of pop. The Peekers have fun with it rather than relying too heavily on clichés, adding in some healthy playfulness with sudden circus tempos or goofy lyrics. On the sleepy “My First Surprise,” John Martin sings “My pet’s demise was a slow death / he muddled words on his last breath…but people can’t understand cats” over low, agreeable hums. Later, on “Favorite Love,” Aubre Bauer asks her sweetie to “throw away your pride / bury it with the cat” as clarinet, flute, and horn drive the ditty home. A bit morbid perhaps, but with silly undertones that divert right back to the image of a cheery group if friends. Their evident intent, to spread joy, gives The Peekers’ young-at-heart pop the tendency to stick in the head much like the cuisine of their native state sticks to the ribs.