Don’t judge the record by the cover, but don’t imagine Peach Kelli Pop would lie to you, either. The Los Angeles-via-Ottawa indie-pop band’s new album, Gentle Leader, is adorable without being gooey and bursts with can-do energy—and at just 23 minutes, never risks losing momentum. It’s all mirrored in Miza Coplin’s eye-catching cover artwork: butterflies, strawberry milk, a dagger ready to be tucked into thigh-highs, and a toy bunny rabbit blown up to Donnie Darko proportions.
Short and sweet is the Peach Kelli Pop recipe: earlier “long” players Peach Kelli Pop I, II, and III didn’t crack the 30-minute mark either. But beginning with this year’s Which Witch EP, they’ve polished off their fuzzy sound just enough to reveal some new depth in bandleader Allie Hanlon’s songwriting. “Hello Kitty Knife” and “Black Cat 13″ trace a silhouette between cute and scary, imagining a world of sharp-edged Sanrio tchotchkes and Friday the 13th tattoo specials come to life. “Parasomnia” is a gentle-hearted meditation on infatuation, while “Don’t Push Me” is dance-punk for the DIY feminist: “It’s my choice, it’s my call, I don’t care about protocol.” It’s simple until, of course, it’s not. Likeminded lo-fi rocker Colleen Green’s favorite is “King Size,” ostensibly a song about a large dog, but really a reminder that no one’s too strong to be tender.
Gentle Leader is out today from storied Vancouver indie label Mint Records. Listen below and see Peach Kelli Pop’s upcoming tour dates here.