Album Reviews

Penelope Isles – Until The Tide Creeps In

(Bella Union) UK release date: 12 July 2019

Penelope Isles - Until The Tide Creeps In Family plays a bigger part than you first realise in one of Brighton’s most heralded upcoming bands. Named after songwriting siblings’ Jack and Lily Wolter’s mother, quartet Penelope Isles complete the family affair by featuring their father on the cover of their debut album Until The Tide Creeps In.

Originally from the Isle of Man, the pair were first separated when Jack headed off to Uni, but it was when Lily moved to Brighton that wheels set in motion for the band. Joining up with Jack Sowton and Becky Redford as initially a three-piece, Lily began studying songwriting with Jack already working away on his own tracks in Cornwall amongst other places before he too relocated to the south coast. Their shows have attracted plenty of attention as they primarily worked the local circuit, and now an extensive tour is also approaching that includes a support slot for labelmates The Flaming Lips.

Seemingly a suitable choice on more than one front, it’s lead single and oft-gig opener Chlorine that kicks off the album. With fuzzy POND melodies melding with whimsical summery musings you get a whiff of Delays as analogical lyrics tell of jumping in fully clothed and breaking your nose, the actual meaning of the song self-described as “a heart-breaking family divide”.

Leipzig is another single, this one penned by Lily and the distinct difference between the brother and sister’s songwriting appears clearly as things turn a little nursery rhyme-ish. Round, another of Jack’s efforts, is pure bubblegum pop where the chorus impresses; for reference, hark back to the likes of The Lotus Eaters attempting to cover a Red Box song.

If you prefer a little guts to your music, Penelope Isles probably aren’t it, although the spiky verses of Cut Your Hair – as well as a soaring chorus – fares much better, as does decent seven-minute regular show-closer Gnarbone, a number that has now grown into a live favourite. Two other mid-placed tracks, though, are probably the biggest standouts here. The delicate, wispy vocals provided by Lily on the quite excellent Underwater Record Store seem to suit the music a lot more cohesively than many of its peers, whilst Three represents the best of Jacks’ vocal performances as the slower cut produces a lot more power than usual alongside a mesmerising melody.

There may not quite be enough highlights to keep you clicking repeat indefinitely but, for a first glimpse of a new band that’s certainly got plenty of tongues wagging, Until The Tide Creeps In isn’t a bad outing at all. 

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Penelope Isles – Until The Tide Creeps In