THE REVOLUTIONARY HYDRA
The theme of the PEEFs, such as there is a theme, came about purely through an accidental slip of the tongue. During an early recording session Robbie thought he heard one of the other guys, Chris possibly, say "peefs" when in fact it was "peeps". Everyone sort of stopped what they were doing-- the new album had been titled.
From there Jay took the ball and ran with it, as he is wont to do. He suggested PEEFs could stand for Pilot Engineer Expeditionary Force, and proceeded to dream up a background plot for a faux space movie involving a future re-enactment of the Dunkirk evacuation, but this time on the Moon.
As for the album... First off is Bart's demonstrative punk number called William Wizard Cauliflower. It's a harder sound for the Hydra-- the first words out of Bart are "Crash my teeth out on a boulder, I'm blacking out"-- and the way the bass and guitar double through the chorus while Joe commits fretboard arson, the way that Robbie screams alright (!) would seem to indicate a complete change for the Hydra. Not so, for song number two (Binary Thoughts) quickly brings us back to familiar Hydra mid-tempo territory where Joe "breathe[s] like a canned human, with dust and sediment for gas".
Jay's Space Movie song follows in third place, furthering the faux space movie possibility, this time with the premise that it could only be shot by a future Polanski, taking over from a future Kubrick, who wound up being ultimately frustrated by contract disputes.
As expected, the four main Hydras trade off on various instruments, but Chris Walla's (Death Cab for Cutie) presence on the PEEFs is more pervasive than ever before. Above, below and through everything is Walla's inspired engineering, playing and praying. Most notable is the keyboard intro to Moon Base Dover, another memorable Walla keyboard melody in a long line of such over the course of all four Hydra albums.
It seems appropriate to me that the PEEFs, begun in September of 2002, would only see the light of day in early 2004. Appropriate in the sense that it's always taken the Hydra a long time to piece together their albums, but also in that a new year signals many changes for the Hydra: a new label (Skrocki Records), a new album, and a new period of extended hibernation... floating in space hibernation, as it were.