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Peggy Gou - I Hear You (Album Review)

Monday, 17 June 2024 Written by Jacob Brookman

Peggy Gou’s debut album finds the superstar Korean DJ delivering 10 tracks of throwback 1990s dance music that, while dispatched with a lot of creativity and joy, struggles sometimes to find a point of difference. It is a record that begins to carve out its own sound, but which doesn’t always hang together as well as it should.

It features (It Goes Like) Nanana — originally released last year — which is comfortably Gou’s biggest hit and the centrepiece of her sound. The track samples (9PM) Till I Come by ATB, one of the biggest dance hits of the ‘90s, and is adorned by simple, elegant production and an airy vocal. It’s a lightweight chemical banger.

This sound scans well on tracks like Back to One, which employs similarly delicious retro keyboard patches and squelchy drum loops, alongside Korean-English lyrics that sparkle and trot. 

There is also the album closer 1+1=11, which is faster and thus more hard house adjacent. This is more intense, guttural music of the sort that one might expect at Berlin’s Berghain nightclub, where Gou was a sensation. But it oddly ends up being a slightly limp outro — it doesn't really have much emotional or spiritual heft. 

And this disconnect can be traced back through the album. When you listen a third or fourth time, certain tracks that seemed really bold and impressive begin to seem a bit silly and naff. First among them is I Believe in Love Again, a slower dance-pop track featuring Lenny Kravitz’s falsetto. It starts well and then arrives at a chorus so generic and tedious that it makes you question the melodies found elsewhere.

The same goes for the opener Your Art, a slow burn builder that features a spoken word skit/poem from Gou: “We have colonised, industrialised, modernised / We have forgotten self respect and to listen to ourself [...] create your universe anew.” As the opening to a live DJ set you can just imagine the smoke machines, lights and swell of the crowd, but as the opening to an album it seems dumb and frivolous — it makes you think of turbo capitalism and Fyre Festival.

But let's not be too sniffy. This is still a debut, and there is a lot to like, but ‘I Hear You’ is disjointed and random. You get this frequently with DJ-producers — Calvin Harris has tried to make a feature of it by naming his albums ‘Funk Wav Bounces’ — which covers for the inconsistency somewhat. This is good fun but it doesn’t quite succeed in moving the live show to an album format.

Peggy Gou Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sat August 17 2024 - LONDON Gunnersbury Park

Compare & Buy Peggy Gou Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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