Peach Kelli Pop and their joyous, beautiful youth


By Rev. Adam McKinney on March 25, 2015

One of the more bizarre movie-watching experiences I've ever had is when my dad sat me down and had me watch Beach Blanket Bingo. Yet another in a seemingly endless series of beach party movies in the '60s, featuring Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello, and tons of groovy dancing, Beach Blanket Bingo follows the genre's formula of combining benign teen idols and threadbare plots into something vaguely resembling a movie. Still, even by those standards, Beach Blanket Bingo is a titan of kitchen sink screenwriting and baffling casting decisions. This is a movie that somehow features Paul Lynde, Don Rickles and a speaking role for Buster Keaton (whose beach fishing session ends with him yanking off a girl's bikini).

It was a formative experience, watching Beach Blanket Bingo, and seeing it as a sort of darkest timeline version of A Hard Day's Night. While the Beatles' film debut similarly owes a lot of its inherent charm to the magnetic presence of its starring teen idols, it ultimately succeeds by virtue of the filmmakers trying way harder than they needed to. In the world of Beach Blanket Bingo, on the other hand, the teen idols are the beginning and end of what's for sale: youth at its purest and most radiant, and a sunny beach on which to frame their beauty.

It's no coincidence, then, to note how the first two full-lengths from LA-based Peach Kelli Pop feature album covers showing frontwoman Allie Hanlon posing just like a '60s heartthrob in gloriously candy-coated color on the beach. The music of Peach Kelli Pop harkens back to that same, sugary sound - albeit with a fuzzy veneer of bubblegum garage pop - but sneakily provides more substance than Frankie and Annette could've mustered.

"Even as a child, I just loved melodies and harmonies and hooks, just really good pop sounds, I guess," says Hanlon. "That's always been what I've really been drawn to. ... When I started Peach Kelli Pop, I didn't have any plans. I was trying to see if I could write songs, and if I could play bass and guitar, and also learn to compose a full song, with all the intricate factors it involved. Eventually, after I had five or six songs recorded, I got my twin sister and some of my close friends to play live shows with me. ... It was a little nerve-wracking, because it was my first time fronting a band and singing. It's obviously very different recording songs in your bedroom and then performing them in front of people. From only playing drums in bands to becoming the frontperson, I wasn't sure at first if I was comfortable with it, because that's not really my personality, either, because I'm not really a very outgoing person, but I eventually got comfortable with it."

From bedroom recordings to playful glamor shots on album covers and associations with record labels like Burger, Lolipop and Bachelor, the years since Peach Kelli Pop have been feverishly eventful ones. Numerous tours across North America and even over to Japan have helped to refine and strengthen what Peach Kelli Pop already had pretty well nailed back when it was just a one-woman project. Even though the members tend to shift - with different ladies coming in to fill out the band at various times - the vision of Peach Kelli Pop remains a constant.

On the new, forthcoming album, PKP III, Hanlon found herself recording in a proper studio for the first time. The added fidelity, though, only solidifies the aesthetic, rather than taking away from it. With some of the lo-fi hum extracted, Hanlon is free to sound like the teen idol she always appeared to be. The guitar-driven confections are still as sweet, with an added backbone provided by the upgrade in recording technology. Hanlon's feather-light voice still stands out amongst the rabble, giving every song a tender, loving heart, even when she's singing about how much she loves Chinese food. Peach Kelli Pop shines with an effulgent joy.

PEACH KELLI POP, w/ Globelamp, No Big Seal, 8 p.m., Thursday, April 2, Deadbeat Olympia, 226 N. Division St., Olympia, $5, 360.943.0662

PEACH KELLI POP, w/ Cult Evaders, White Murder, Versing, 8 p.m., Saturday, April 4, Bob's Java Jive, 2102 South Tacoma Ave., Tacoma, $5, 253.475.9843