Album Reviews

Peggy Gou – I Hear You

(XL) UK release date: 7 June 2024

Perfect for both living room and club, the soundtrack to all this summer’s hottest barbecues and beach parties is upon us

Peggy Gou - I Hear You After K-Pop comes K-House. Korea has a case to make that it’s currently the centre of the commercial pop universe – and after BTS have successfully conquered the music world, we now have Peggy Gou waiting in the wings with her often inspired ’90s-influenced house/pop.

Gou was born in Incheon, South Korea, was educated in London and then moved to Berlin – it’s the sort of CV that screams ‘effortlessly cool’, which also describes much of Gou’s music. She’s been DJing for the best part of a decade, slowly building up an audience with fashion magazine covers, appearances in Ibiza superclubs and remixing the likes of Kylie Minogue. She only became a big star last year though when her track (It Goes Like) Nanana became a huge, worldwide hit.

It’s Nanana which sums up the appeal of Peggy Gou, and her debut album. On the one hand, it’s impossibly cheesy – from the sample of Euro-dance favourite ATB‘s 9PM (Till I Come) to the nonsense lyrics and the unashamed Cafe Del Mar feel of it – but you can’t help but be swept along by it.

The impossibly bouncy Lobster Telephone hits a similar vibe, full of ’80s touches and lyrics sung in Korean. Yet, as Gou sings, in her understated way: “I know you don’t understand this, but it doesn’t matter” (thank you, Google Translate). As an expression of the universal power of music, it’s pretty powerful.

I Hear You also feels like a perfectly timed record – released right at the beginning of summer, songs like I Go feel tailor-made to bake in the sun to, such is the Balearic feel so expertly recreated. Back At One just feels full of joy and optimism, while All That, while not being quite as addictive, has a Spanish language vocal from Puerto Rican trans rapper Villano Antillano, which adds immeasurably to the holiday feel.

There’s really only I Believe In Love Again which doesn’t really hit the mark, thanks to an almost unlistenable falsetto vocal from none other than Lenny Kravitz – compared to the unrelenting energy of the rest of the record, it feels syrupy and bland. Gou’s on much firmer ground with tracks like the bizarre Seoulsi Peggygou, which attempts to cram as many sounds as possible into its two and a half minutes and sounds all the better for it.

The second half of the album sees Gou explore and develop her sound a bit more. Purple Horizon is a spacey dub masterpiece that nods towards Bomb The Bass at times, while the closing 1+1=11 is full of frenetic beats and a synth line that effortlessly balances the line between kitsch and cool. It’s that eclectic and restless nature that makes I Hear You one of those rare dance albums that sounds equally at home in the living room or in a club. Expect Peggy Gou to be the soundtrack to all the hottest barbecues and beach parties this summer.

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Peggy Gou – I Hear You