The Penelope[s]

The Penelope[s]

The Penelope[s]

Priceless Concrete Echoes

Le Plan

A younger coworker pricked up his ears when I was playing this record at my desk. “This is going to be the next big jam,” he assured me. I think the kid might have a point. The Penelope[s] take the big electro moves that are being joylessly worn out by the likes of M83 and La Roux and inject them with a dirty water syringe of sleaze and cavepunk cool. So don’t hold it against them that they’re rocking out on catwalks all over Pareee — even Carl Lagerfeld uses Alan Vega tunes to soundtrack his openings. The core duo of Vincent T and Axel Basquiat (the black Iggy Pop apparently) are just as turned on by Suicide as the epic, gleaming futurism of New Order, Soft Cell, Depeche Mode, Echo and the Bunnymen, Tears for Fears, and ABC. They’re arched-eyebrow pop fetishists of a premier order. “Stuck in Lalaland” is an instant anthem, with a sampled Big Country-esque guitar riff and battle cry synths that make every chorus bigger and Cecil B. Demille better. The motorik eighth-note basslines and crystalline keyboards of “Licked By Love” provide the sporty early model New Order coupe (especially “Your Silent Face”) for guest vocalist Morpheus to try all of his nascent Dave Gahanisms out. Every time I hear this, it reminds me of music I listened to in high school and how a bass note played high on the guitar neck could summarize a whole month of sadness perfectly.

I love hearing the boy/girl vocalists bemoaning how the changing of the seasons “is so bru-ta-a-alllll” on “Circle of the Seasons.” “Saved” is a scorched-earth storm that roars to life like the best of My Bloody Valentine and early Ride — shuddering waves of guitar, swirling feedback and synths, with only a deep bass anchor to prevent the whole thing from flying off until the middle distance. “Joey Santiago” drops the Pixies guitarist’s name into a funky miasma of slap bass and pose-offs like “Love is the Drug” era Roxy Music. Some of this album reminds me of early Skinny Puppy. The only true downer is the sleazy quarter-speed cover of the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage,” and even that has its charms, what with Basquiat trying to wrap his Gallic tongue around the lyrics.

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