Review by Penny Staff
Undoubtedly, there have been a slew of excellent releases shared in the first few weeks of 2022, but we simply can't write about them all! Check out a handful of tracks the Penny staff have chosen to highlight below.
Isabel Corp: Dehd - "Bad Love"
This propulsive earworm is the first single Dehd released in anticipation of their third full-length LP, Blue Skies. “Bad Love” opens with the sprawling voice of frontwoman Emily Kempf, submerged in a swamp of reverb with twangy guitar strums that perfectly sync up with the drums. The way the instrumentation continues to pick up speed as Kempf’s utterances grow more and more urgent is exhilarating. It’s a simultaneously compelling and danceable ballad that shows Kempf come to terms with her personal flaws, punching the listener in the gut each time she pleads, “Run, baby, run, run from the bad love!”
Marianna Kaimakliotis: Cat Le Bon - "Remembering Me"
Inspired by dadaism and being stuck in an old place with a new perspective, Cate Le Bon gives us Pompeii, her new album, with three singles — "Remembering Me," "Moderation," and "Running Away." On the first, Le Bon’s echoing vocals and mysterious, unexpected rhythms leave you with a charmed, optimistic listen, soft and similar to a sophomore St. Vincent work — not surprising given their past work together and friendship. Ethereal, synthy, dissonant, at times repetitive, and without what seems like a destination or central theme in lyricism, but a pleasant experience overall. Remembering Me stands out, and sounds like a mix of Caroline Polachek and David Byrne, a bit whimsical and bouncy. However, these three singles don’t seem to hit as hard as the titular track “Harbour,” or as tracks from 2019’s Reward ("Home to You" and "Sad Nudes," in particular).
James Lore: Fontaines D.C. - "Jackie Down The Line" x "I Love You"
April will see the release of Skinty Fa, the third album in as many years from Irish quintet Fontaines D.C. And, if lead single "Jackie Down The Line" is any indication, this could be their best work yet. Once again, the band sought the services of English producer Dan Carey, who has found success in recent years shaping the careers and sounds of a wave of contemporaries such as Black Midi, Squid, and Black Country, New Road. The track features every element of a great post-punk song; the best kind of “more of the same” for those who care to seek it out. Bright, blinking guitar lines interplay with vocalist Grian Chatten’s cryptic poetry over a rhythm section that rumbles with ashy cymbals that fill the air. Truly good post-punk strikes a razor-thin balance of pushing for some unique voice while also paying dedicated homage to those who have come before. The band wears its DNA on its sleeve, with hints of many of the English forbears that originated the genre, but the band owes even more to the work of the great Irish folk poets, with Chatten fashioning himself like a punk Yeats or James Joyce. Second single "I Love You" slows it down a notch, expanding on the more textured ballads found on previous album A Hero’s Death, while also folding in dreamy 90’s guitar and pounding syncopated drums. An impassioned ode about the band’s complex feelings toward their home country, it plays into the album’s title and imagery of the extinct Irish elk, and suggests a hope for some manner of rebirth for her people’s sake.
Dylan McNally: BODEGA - "Doers" x "Top Hat No Rabbit"
Bodega released Endless Scroll in 2018 to a fair bit of praise from critics, yet its raw sound didn’t catch on with much of the public in the same way that some of their contemporaries did (see: Sports Team, Fontaines D.C). Whatever the reason that Bodega have initially only gained a cult following whilst others were on a direct path to stardom, it is undeniable that since then, there has been a greater appetite for what they have to give. Although taking off in the UK, this whole post-punk/art-punk thing seems, finally, a bit more accessible on the other side of the pond. Bodega were ahead of their time, restricted by being on the other side of the Atlantic to the scene’s hub in London, in a New York not yet quite ready for them in 2018, a New York which in the intervening years has caught up. What they need now is an album to not only showcase their talent but capitalise on the favourable musical environment that they finally find themselves in. The early signs (and singles) suggest Broken Equipment could very well much be that album.
Other notable releases:
Momma - "Rockstar"
BAMBARA - "Slither in the Rain"
Wet Leg - "Angelica"
Just Mustard - "Still"
Iceage - "Pull Up"
Charli XCX - "Baby"
Porridge Radio - "Back To The Radio"