THIS IS NOT AN EXIT
Label: Hardly Art
Here’s the thing about ill peach: this band exists because they are too weird to not exist.
The seed of ill peach was first planted in the recording studios of New York City where Pat Morrissey and Jess Corazza were working together as professional songwriters, collaborating with artists like Icona Pop, SZA, Weezer, Pharrell, Big Freedia, and others. Then came the day they were offered their own publishing deal. Cool, right? Well, about that.
“Everyone kept saying, ‘The stuff that you’re writing is slightly too left-of-center—weirdo stuff,” remembers Morrissey. “Why don’t you start your own project?”
Thus ill peach, a pop band with a punk streak and a taste for both the rotten and the sweet, with an approach to making music that goes something like: “Do you want to pick up a guitar and do you want to be on this water jug and we’ll record it on the iPhone and create some weird drum pattern?”
Following a series of well-received EPs on their own Pop Can Records (a record label and artist collective Morrissey and close collaborator Jesse Schuster run with friends), a digital single for Hardly Art’s 15th anniversary series, and some colorful music videos that crystallized the band’s visual aesthetic along with their sound, ill peach’s “weirdo stuff” comes to fruition on first full-length THIS IS NOT AN EXIT: a collection of anthemic songs built out of bright pop and gritty experimental elements (Morrissey names the sculptural use of distortion on the final albums by Low as an inspiration), punctuated with hooky choruses ready to be screamed along to in the safety of your own bedroom or with a bunch of friends at one of ill peach’s intense live shows.
If ill peach first blossomed in New York, it took quarantine in Los Angeles for the project to ripen. Corazza describes it as a time when “the veil of the music industry fell down—you couldn’t put on a facade anymore because everything was too fucking real.” The end of the world turned out to be what ill peach needed to get real with themselves. “It helped us creatively to zone in and removed us from the [industry] side of things to where we could just be like: this is our new identity, let's jump with both feet.”
THIS IS NOT AN EXIT’s title is a reflection of something Corazza realized during a period of personal and familial crises. “I kept walking into buildings and I’d try to exit somewhere and the sign would be like, ‘This is not an exit,’” she says. “It just felt like a metaphor for a hopeful thing—don't give up yet.” The combination of hope and anxiety is all over This is Not an Exit, reflected in a sonic palette (Alternative! Electronica! Indie! Radio Pop! Coldplay!) as eclectic as it is unpretentious.
Opening track “BLOOM” is a euphoric song that tempers dream pop-like ethereality with New Order-ish synthesizers and propulsive breakbeats. Next is driving “BLAH BLAH BLAH,” an angsty pop song about language losing its meaning in the face of information overload, a real “flip the couch” number, if you will (just try not to sing along when the chorus hits.) Then comes the dynamic “HUSH,” a buzzing loud-quiet-loud rock anthem that you’ll swear has been on the radio since 1995, ill peach’s very own “Rage Against the Machine song,” as Morrissey puts it.
The softer side of ill peach comes to the fore on “HEAD FULL OF HOLES,” where Corazza and Morrissey blend electronic and rock elements on a trip-hop indie pop track about the dangers of living in the past. On the soothing “CAPILLARY BED,” which was made primarily on an OP–1 synthesizer, Corazza’s vocals sound more angelic than ever as she uses the metaphor of blood vessels delivering nutrients to the body to describe the magic of human connection. (“Weirdo stuff,” remember?)
Ultimately, says Corazza, THIS IS NOT AN EXIT is a record about healing, a process often spoken about in New Age-y terms but one that in reality can be really confusing and, yes, weird. But it is the beautiful strangeness of being alive that ill peach capture so well on This is Not an Exit. The band’s unabashed embrace of their own zany impulses enhances the honesty at the heart of their songs, because what is zanier than unpredictability of human emotions in the face of life’s challenges? What is more beautiful than coming out the other side with greater wisdom and compassion for yourself and others? As Morrissey says: “You can't run away—you gotta just face these things.” That’s a song worth singing along to.