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Avant garde musings hit the sweet spot on second outing from Irish band
Olaf Tyaransen, 02 Nov 2010
This self-produced sophomore effort from multi-talented Dublin duo Mark Cummins and Paul Murphy (Electric Penguins was the password for entry to Macca’s Cavendish Square pad in the ‘60s, fact fans) is a dreamily ambient, deeply layered, 12-track feast of folksy electronica, psychedelic rock and cool grooves.
Moody opener ‘Minutes’ initially sounds like Pink Floyd, but musically this can’t be penguinholed. Made with moogs, vocoders, mellotrons, korgs and various other instruments that don’t have to be plugged in, it’s accomplished and trippy enough to invoke comparisons with everyone from Eno, Sigur Ros and Floyd to Drake, Anderson and olde English folk. While their various influences might be obvious, the Penguins have an originality and almost androgynous vocal style that truly marks them out.
The standout track is the warm and folksy, Tinderstick-ish paean to London, ‘Highgate Hill’. ’19 Winters’ is upbeat and uplifting enough to get you through the coldest of nights, though the funereal ‘Nico’s End’ is as timelessly melancholic as it gets. Album closer ‘Self Portrait’ is a gorgeously sad and stark ballad, that somehow gives you hope at the end.
II definitely won’t be everyone’s cup of mushroom tea, but this reviewer’s shocking advice is to p-p-p-pick up a Penguin.
KEY TRACK: ‘ALWAYS ALWAYS’