"Subtle" isn't usually a word associated with Peaches' music, but it applies to I Feel Cream surprisingly often. Yes, even though she proclaims someone a "mangina" in one song and herself a "stage whore" in another, this set of songs is often more restrained, and even mature, than Peaches has been in the past -- and not just because she tells a lover to lick her crow's feet on "Trick or Treat." I Feel Cream is far more electronic and dancefloor-oriented than her music has been in years; in sharp contrast to Impeach My Bush's electro-glam rock, this album has absolutely no guitars. It also features more collaborations with other producers than Peaches' previous work. Along with Gonzales, with whom she's worked since the Teaches of Peaches days, she enlists Digitalism, Soulwax, Drums of Death, and her former remixers Simian Mobile Disco to help take her music in different directions. Some of these don't quite work -- "Lose You," an icy, fragile ballad, is pretty but doesn't quite work as a way to show Peaches' vulnerable side, and "Mud"'s chilly sound is similarly at odds with her fiery persona -- but most of them do. "Talk to Me" is a standout, with Soulwax providing an electro-soul backdrop for some of Peaches' most powerful singing. It's raw, it's direct, and it's nearly as big a step forward as the album's title track: "I Feel Cream" takes the breathy appeal of Impeach My Bush's "Downtown" and turns it into gauzily erotic disco about love/lust at first sight in the club that feels like the heiress to "More, More, More" and "I Feel Love"'s abstract-yet-explicit come-ons. Only her rap, which rhymes "guitar hero" with "DeNiro" and "Robert Shapiro," makes it obvious that this is a Peaches song.
There are also plenty of moments that aren't groundbreaking, but still show that Merill Nisker has a lot to say about sex, music, and pop culture nearly a decade after Teaches of Peaches was released. "Billionaire" is classic, tough-talking Peaches, with hard-hitting production, a cameo by Yo Majesty's Shunda K., and a chorus that boils the song down to its talking points ("Billionaire/love affair/take you there)." "Mommy Complex" is kinky and intellectual, juxtaposing zipless fucks and baby's breath, while "Showstopper" lives up to its name, barreling in on fiercely buzzing synths and sweaty beats. Interestingly, most of I Feel Cream's more subdued moments were produced by Peaches herself: "Take You On" and "Relax"'s quietly hypnotic grooves suggest that she's not so much abandoning electro-clash -- which she rhymes with "backlash" on "Serpentine (I Don't Give A...Pt. 2)" -- as she is giving it nuance. What better way to show that you "don't give a fuck" than to find more and different ways to say that? ~ Heather Phares, Rovi