[sic] Magazine

David West – Peace Or Love

Peace Or Love is the sort of album that creeps out of obscurity when you repeatedly teach someone not to show their emotions in public. For many in this boat, what needs to come out eventually does and it often does so via an explosive uncorking. David West hasn’t reached that stage yet, but he’s getting close. The New York-based songwriter also plays in guitar-pop band Rat Columns, synth-pop project Liberation, as well as with post-punk outfit Rank/Xerox and others, not to mention his previous work when growing up in Perth, Australia as/with Total Control, Lace Curtain, Burning Sensation and Whalehammer. Peace Or Love is his debut solo endeavour and it’s an intimate bedroom initiative never yet played live and made, perhaps, out of necessity, an outlet for what bubbles just beneath the skin and throughout it West wears a smile on top of an unhappy soul.

West’s playful synth-pop may frequently sound jaunty, summery even in places, but it’s all just a mask. If his allegorical lyrics don’t clue you in, his sometimes-ironic-sometimes-on-the-button song titles will. Central to these is the three-part and self-explanatory “Darkness In My Heart” suite. West’s vocal is at all times sorrowful, sounding at times like Alexis Taylor, but on these three tracks, as close-mic’ed as you can get, it’s downright whispery and despondent. This said, taking in various ups and downs, Peace Or Love is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster.

West is not one to visibly dwell long down in the dumps though. The third part of the “Darkness In My Heart” collection, for example, closes out the album and it does so with an awkward pairing of synth and strings, cowbell sufficing for percussion, when, just for a moment, it blossoms into budget triumph, coming on briefly like a shoestring take on Sigur Rós‘s ever-wonderful “Starálfur”. The longest track by some distance, “Dream On Dreamer”, too, employs an undulating beat and skittering percussion that transforms the ordinary into tasteful, come-down synth-pop, while obvious single “Happiest Man In The Room” grooves in turn on an overdriven keyboard programme, morose electronic post-punk in the New Order style shimmering with New Wave choruses robbed from a forgotten Blondie demo.

In between these bouts of minimal, DIY guitar-pop and arch indietronica roam orchestral tune-ups, urban field capture and menacing ambience driven, partially, by the hum of the album’s home recording. West lets noodling guitar solos creep into his experimental electro-pop and scrappy tape-warped synths too. And it’s at this point that it becomes clear that these are outsider constructs made by an outsider, a one-man artist trying to make peace with himself while questioning his own optimistic belief in love. Sometimes it comes together and sometimes in unravels dramatically, but isn’t that life in a nutshell?

Best track: “Happiest Man In The Room”

~Peace Or Love is released August 5th 2016 via Tough Love.~