Stuart, Florida
November 7, 1997

Peach Union - Audiopeach (Mute/Epic)

Peach Union's album opener and first single, On My Own, is one of '97's epiphanies.

An ecsatic ode to independence, it explodes into a panoramic wide-screen swirl of James Bond brass, Isaac Hayes bass grooves, and sumptuous blankets of percolating synthesisers. Singer Lisa Lamb's aching vocals conjure memories of Dusty Springfield and Sandie Shaw singing their little '60s hearts out. Blissful for its four-minute lifespan, it dazzles with an impeccable string arrangement and locomotive Kraftwerk-ian electronic bleeps keeping time. On My Own spans a 30-year pop history from Phil Spector's Ronettes' style backing vocals, Madonna's late '80s groove-athons, up to the retro-synth ear candy of St. Etienne.

It's as close to perfect as pop gets. and the English trio Peach Union's album, Audiopeach, is peachy-keen too.

Sweet, firm and ripe, the album celebrates and updates the glistening dance tunes and melodies of old-school '80s techno-pop auteurs like ABC, Human League, Thomas Dolby and Culture Club, whose hits were mainstays on MTV and radio.

Pascal Gabriel's involvement in the bands S'Express and Bomb the Bass paved the groundwork here. He made a name for himself producing albums for the cream of the synth-pop crop like ex-Associate Billy Mackenzie's Outernational and ex-Propaganda chanteuse Claudia Brucken's Love and a Million Other Things, before hooking up with fellow music addict, Paul Statham.

Statham's exit from working with ex-Bauhaus vocalist Peter Murphy coincided with Gabriel's plans for a new band. sharing a love for all things technological and shiny, the two sought a singer to bring their songs the human touch. Lisa Lamb came on board and the trio dubbed themselves Peach - known in the States as Peach Union.

With a knack for writing craft ditties in the style of Parisian crooner Serge Gainsbourg and the melodic craft of his idols Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Gabriel fixated on bringing the electronic songs of Stereolab and Dusseldorf icons, Kraftwerk, to his palette. Statham brought his influences of glam-rock, David Bowie and T. Rex to the mix. Lamb's love of the vocal stylings of Marvin Gaye and Patsy Cline unite the Peach Union sound in a pure digital harmony.

From This Moment On skips along to the same production tricks that Alan Tarney sprinkled over Cliff Richard and A-ha's '80s hits: sparkling power chords atop a bubbly synth shuffle.

Made In Vain's jovial stomp and eager chants sound ready to enliven event the dullest party. Lamb's creamy vocals melt like chocolate in your ears.

Perfect World's space-age tango trips the light fantastic with spiky rhythms and roguishly aggressive hooks. Ahthems-in-waiting, Tell Me and Give Me Tomorrow, practically re-invent Hi-NRG, with their triple-time beats egging dancefloor patrons to new frenzied heights.

Deep Down Together mockingly marries ABBA's hummability with a Sparks/Giorgio Moroder spasm of Teutonic disco circa 1981, with sequencers set on stun-gun pulse.

The late Billy Mackenzie makes one of his last appearances adding his other-worldly falsetto to Deep Down Together and Give Me Tomorrow, giving both songs one last jolt of etherealism. His originality will be sorely missed.

The stunning Sorrow Town could be mistaken for one of Pet Shop Boys' rain-soaked epics, with its faux Motown chorus, grand piano apreggios and melancholy wall-of-sound drilling itself into your cranium.

Blondie's Heart of Glass meets Erasure's Who Needs Love Like That on Higher Ground, a galloping barn-storm thiller guaranteed to burn rubber on dancefloors and airwaves alike.

The John Barry-esque cinematic sweep of the lush Hush brings the velvet curtains down in a Broadway musical style finale. Soaring strings conjure images of bouquets of roses and a lone teardrop brushing Lamb's cheek, bring Audiopeach to a fitting close.

By borrowing from pop's past, Peach Union have grafted a modern hybrid that both honors and updates with a freshness and exuberance that will never go out of style.