Review Summary: London indie act abandons all charades and gives himself more credit.
As the weather in late 2007 became harsher, so did the comments from the fanged mouths of music critics that weren’t going to buy into this act of an independent British pop songwriter with ‘seemingly more than meets the eye’ for the umphteenth time. With the help of the English trash pop scene and its star persona Lily Allen
, Jack Peñate’s debut album, Matinée
saw the light of day. Jack sold this act accordingly: dancing in bizarre fashions like a carelessly nerved fish out-of-water…wearing individualistic clothes with the intent of stirring a crowd…it’s as if all he needed was a few nipslips following a drunken and/or imaginary fight with Katy Perry
. Needless to say, the reactions to his debut came as a surprisingly heavy blow to the London songwriter. While around his head lived accusations of being “poorly inspired by The Housemartins
” and “an enthusiastic puppy attempting to swim to someplace more interesting, but unable to do anything else than tread water,” Peñate shortly moped around with a hole where he once wore his heart on both his chest and sleeve cuff.
His heart surely played Robin to his Batman personality and the spunky duo made up his musical centerpiece (arguably more than the music itself) and listeners knew this. Unfortunately, pushing your personality to sell records is a dangerous risk for an introduction and Peñate came off as unsatisfying and, well, talentless. Now that his fuzzy thinking excused itself from the picture, Jack is onboard for a second shot. This time, the indie pop guitarist gives us more of himself by giving himself more credit.
Everything Is New
is a dicey title, but I’m glad to say it is bolstered by Jack reinventing himself by dropping the charade and becoming more inspired by different genres. He surfs playfully through the likes of soft, club-friendly products that have both a sense of grace and liveliness to them, much like his fellow record label partners, Friendly Fires
. Majestic producer Paul Epworth (Maximo Park
, Bloc Party
) casts his spell for Peñate’s average noise to meet a delightful promotion. Tracks like “Be the One” or his lead single “Tonight’s Today” offer a disco hook to steer this dreamboat dynamically downriver with dancing hi-hats. The record is overflowing with ‘Afro-beat meets shimmering guitars’ and even samba drums come into play in “Give Yourself Away”.
“Let’s All Die” features Peñate earning that tilde in his name (although Sputnik’s character recognition for adding bands doesn’t seem so). Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebration comes insisted in both the dreary but celebratory title and the mariachi brass instruments that the track is dressed with. Every track found on Everything
has that light-on-its-feet way about it. Jack’s vocals air out the atmosphere for all its worth with instantly gripping hooks that take on a repetitively poppy – and frequently disco – nature.
The album’s closer is what makes me excited for what this Londoner has in store for his next release. There isn’t anything droning or even boring about the rest of the album’s face, but when “Body Down” comes to kill it off, a fresh breath of hip-hop commences with looping piano lines and a great hook that’s sure to spin you around a bit unexpectedly.
There is no doubt - Everything Is New
will remain to be Peñate’s break of constellation. The artist managed a sophomore slump in reverse. What makes the songwriter one to keep an eye on is the fact that this success was no accident. Peñate said it himself, “I was needing to change who I thought I was.”
He sure does. You’ll pleasantly find him re-emerging with 9 tracks of optimism and pride to dance and lie down to. The nonsense is out of the way and the gloves are off to make this one of the most congenial surprises of 2009. Broadening his horizons, Jack finds a way to be more self-indulgent with his actual music yet keeping his head as enlarged as a marble.
Recommended Tracks: Be The One, Tonight's Today, So Near, Body Down