Thursday, 25 June 2009

Jack Penate - Everything Is New

When we first heard that Jack Penate had ‘gone in a dance direction’ for his second album Everything Is New, we had visions of blatant career led bandwagon jumping and Penate corruptly marching in with a bunch of distasteful synths tucked up under his arm, declaring that his new best friends were La Roux, Little Boots and Hot Chip. Thankfully, this hasn’t turned out to be the case and instead Everything Is New sees Penate progress from his much critically panned but reasonably commercially successful debut Matinee with some new influences and different production values, whilst retaining enough characteristics of his chirpy guitar pop to please his fans.

With hints of the Caribbean, Philly soul, and even gospel, Everything Is New is the sound of Jack Penate strapping on his guitar, going on holiday and drinking lots of mango juice and rum. Producer Paul Epworth has coated the album with just enough summery touches, without them ever becoming overbearing. These touches can be heard on title track Everything Is New where carnival rhythms, handclaps and funky bass lines propel the song forward. Tropical vibes continue on the cocktail shaking, limbo dancing Let’s All Die where even death cannot get Jack down “Let’s wave goodbye to black parades, no silent sobbing at the mouth of my grave,” he sings gleefully as we watch him samba off into the sunset. Be The One is the obvious single on the album; a mix of Screamadelica styled dance vibes and brassy soul which groove along until the whole track musically collapses down the stairs, picks itself up again and throws its hands in the air euphorically. Not everything on the album sees Jack in his surf shorts standing in the waves sipping a strawberry daiquiri though. Songs such as Body Down with its harshly abrupt ending of crashing cymbals and layered noise and Every Glance with its chiming guitars and “Take your hands from my shoulders and let me stand, I’ve been trying my hardest to be a man,” show a deeper reflective maturity.

Lyrically themes of moving on, walking away, travel and taking risks are prevalent. On Pull My Heart Away Jack sings of a need to take himself away, throw himself out of a plane and just see where he lands. Of course there are some detractors who wish that Jack would do just that; without a parachute. But these detractors tend to be the sneering, self important individuals who don’t understand the thrill of pop music. Pop music is allowed to be happy. It’s allowed to be flash in the pan. Its allowed to be enthusiastic. We listen to pop, love it and then move on. No naval gazing required. And without doubt Everything Is New is still very much a pop album; but a pop album that begins to open doors and suggest that Penate could now go off in whatever direction he likes. For those who were ready to write Jack Penate off, you'll have to wait a while longer.

No comments: