Paris born, London-based, duo The Penelopes debut album see’s Axel Basquiat and Vincent T produce a harmonious album full of the joys of summer. The duo’s debut long-play ‘Never Live Another Yesterday’ is out next week and is a collection of unblemished, catchy-as-hell, pop songs which take in everything from the soothing tones of disco to the catchy vocals of pop during 11 meticulously crafted songs.
From the opening bars of ‘Summer Life’ to the catchy vocals of ‘Sally In The Galaxy’ you know you’re listening to an album that should be enjoyed in the sunshine. It’s really hard not to be taken aback by the sheer positivity of the album. Though the pair’s early life was soundtracked by the likes of New Order and Cocteau Twins – their debut full-length is more akin to a pop version of Air than the darker indie-tones of Manchester’s New Order.
The hushed vocals from Axel & Vincent aren’t always powerful enough to carry some of the songs, so the band has decided to add an extra layer of backing vocals from Laura Kidd and Linda Lamb – it’s a shrewd move by the duo as their contributions to ‘Life Without Frontiers’ and ‘Ray Will Have His Revenge’ are every bit as good as the duos own unique vocals.
Production duties have been handled by Dan Grench-Marguerat who’s credits include Lana Del Rey, The Vaccines and the Scissor Sisters – which should tell you that the Penelopes first love is pop. The album ebbs and flows from track to track with an effortless approach from the rousing chorus’ of ‘Ephinany Part 1’ to the over-the-top hooks of ‘Never Live Another Yesterday’.
Standout tracks are a plenty and include ‘Now Now Now’ which see’s the duo combine keyed-up house stabs and clever vocal samples – all served on a bed of chatty drum lines and doughy basslines to create a summer anthem in the making. Other notable highs come in the form of ‘The Sweet Song’ which see’s the band throw out the overly optimistic synths for something a bit more heavier and pounding – it’s sure to be a centre-point of their live show.
Early contender for song of the album is definitely ‘Social City Girl’. It combines warm backing vocals, with the duos own trademark low-key vocals, to create a effervescent pop song that is sure to stick with you for a long time. Especially fantastic is the rousing chorus and sax solo which mingle together to create one of the best indie-pop songs we’ve heard in 2012.
The Penelopes debut album captures everything you’d associate with the positivity of summer; it’s carefee, poppy and shows that catchy pop songs are every bit as exhilarating as full-on French bangers. By showing off their unique ability to combine pop hooks with hushed indie vocals, the album is lifted from run-of-the-mill indie-pop into something really quite special. After a couple of listens you’ll no doubt be humming the songs back to yourself – and that’s the true trademark of great pop music. It might be the wettest summer since records begun but it’s no coincidence that summer starts July 22 via a couple of quirky Parisians.
HBF Rating 5/5
Out July 22 via Pour Le Monde Records.