With a career that has been built on raunchy electronics, tongue-in cheek styling and has now spanned more than a decade, Rub is Peaches sixth studio album.
At many points, the LP is a collaboration with some of music's treasured alternative female artists. Joining forces with Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon on opening track Close Up, the ever-changing and technologically-dependent world of dating takes centre stage, with apps like Blendr, Tinder and Grindr all getting a shout out. Album closer I Mean Something also features Feist, whose soft coos glide across its glitchy background, and with Peaches' pro-equality lyrics - "No matter how old, how young, how sick / I mean something" - holding it down firmly in the foreground.
Initially, due to the facetious tone of some songs, it can be difficult to listen to some of Peaches’ material in a serious light. Take Light Places, for example, which contains her of derivation of words and purposely over-rhymes lines - “My stargasm makes the blast / so much beauty coming out of my ass” – or the brash sexual explicitness throughout the LP that is especially cutting on album title track Rub and Dick In The Air. Nevertheless, in a society where porn is provided for the male gaze, and where females are expected to suppress their sexual desires and needs, she is still able to conjure up the most striking and engaging of debates. Through such explicitness, she confronts gender fluidity, highlights female sexuality and draws attention to the expansion of the LGBT movement to include Queer, Intersex and Asexual members.
Free Drink Ticket has a sinister hum throughout; Peaches voice is low and slightly warped, cutting with an anger and hate that swells in her seethe and ruthless verses. Like an unsent confessional letter, her scathing words feel directed to someone who has done her wrong and has surely been cut out of her life. In complete contrast, the disco grooving Dumb Fuck is softer all around vocally, but is juxtaposed against the harshness of the song’s statement. The influence of the Berlin club scene – the songstress’ home city – is also present in the sound as industrial, stripped down and dark hip hop beats are incorporated into the auditory vibe of this album.
Definitively, Rub is an unapologetic record that thrives in an element of absurdity, an attribute that has always been included in Peaches’ work. In combining this buoyancy with serious subject matters such as gender and sex, she provides us with the ultimate platform to question and challenge the norms that permeate our society.
Words: Lois Browne