Quick Spins: 'I Feel Cream' by Peaches

Tuesday, May 12, 2009



Merrill Nisker, the 40-year-old-going-on-15 bellwether electro-clash star otherwise known as Peaches, used to be dirty. Not erotic, late-night pay cable kind of dirty, but aggressively, noisily, flasher-in-the-subway kind of dirty. We can't print many of her lyrics -- we can't even print many of her album titles -- so you just have to take our word on this. For Peaches, dirty was the point.

And now, something worrying and strange has happened: Peaches has gone legit. Her new disc, "I Feel Cream," barely merits a warning sticker. Also, she sings. Instead of her usual hybrid of rapping, yelling and cooing, several songs feature actual vocals.

"Cream" is the first Peaches album that feels like it wants to be something other than what it is. It's still pretty smutty, still overfilled with the usual flashy, guttural pop, the crisp beats and the subterranean bass that have long composed the Peaches brand, this time tempered by elements of straight-up '80s Euro-disco.

But something's different. "Cream" contains actual almost-ballads that express actual almost-feelings. It's a startling development (who knew Peaches even had feelings?) and it doesn't end well. Peaches sings even the saddest songs in an ironic monotone that renders them meaningless, and the best of them (like the superfine anxiety exercise "Lose You") aren't much more than the song's title sung over and over, anyway.

Partly produced by Simian Mobile Disco, "Cream" has some truly decent moments (like the great clang-and-thud of "Talk to Me" or the gleeful hip-hop/dance-floor hybrid "Billionaire"), but it's the answer to a question nobody asked: What would happen if Liz Phair made an album with Fischerspooner, and Lisa Lisa was there?

Peaches performs at the 9:30 club June 17.

-- Allison Stewart

DOWNLOAD THESE: "Talk To Me," "Billionaire"

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