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Penelope Isles

Penelope Isles @ The Cookie, Leicester, UK, December 4th, 2019

Dec 12, 2019 Web Exclusive Photography by Ian Weston Bookmark and Share

2019 has been a remarkable year for Penelope Isles. Relatively unknown twelve months ago outside of the tightly knit Brighton scene they now call home. Change the rewind button to fast forward and they’ve firmly established themselves as one of the most refreshingly innovative bands to emerge from the UK in years.

Having only signed to esteemed independent Bella Union in the early part of this year, the band’s debut Until The Tide Creeps In has been heralded as one of 2019’s finest. A heady cocktail of insatiable melodies, luscious harmonies, pensive and at times harrowing lyrics yet brimming with a free spirit where experimentation rules key.

Comprised of brother and sister duo Jack and Lily Wolter who founded the band. Having moved from their birthplace on the Isle Of Man, initially to the Cornish coast before eventually settling in Brighton where they met rhythm section Becky Redford and Jack Sowton and as a result, Penelope Isles as they stand before us today were born.

Penelope Isles

While the aforementioned long player has received a never ending stream of plaudits - and rightly so. The Penelope Isles live show is an even more invigorating experience altogether. No doubt harnessed and honed by a relentless tour schedule that’s seen the band on the road for what seems like an entire year. As a result, they’re an extraordinary proposition in the flesh and one whose unpredictability makes them even more enticing.

As some of the songs off Until The Tide Creeps In date back five years or more, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise they have a couple of fully formed new ones in the current live set. Of the two they play, opener “Sailing Still” bridges the gap between the first record and what might come next. Eerily atmospheric yet breezy in places. It works perfectly as an introduction, its daydream like ambience lulling the audience into a false sense of security before the heady rush of “Chlorine” follows suit.

However, the other new song they play tonight, “In A Cage”, drops more than a subtle hint the next record might err on the ferocious side in a similar vein to the band’s live performances. Galloping along at a similar pace to long time live favourite “Gnarbone”, “In A Cage” recalls the halcyon days of early Stereolab or vintage Spacemen 3. A kaleidoscopic melange of sonic ambivalence guided along impeccably by the Wolter siblings flawless harmonising.

Penelope Isles

Elsewhere, Until The Tide Creeps In is represented in the distinguished fashion we’ve come to expect from Penelope Isles. The aforementioned “Chlorine” and “Leipzig” fuse winsome lyrics with fizzy pop melodies while a laconic “Cut Your Hair” has Under the Radar reminiscing about the first time we ever set eyes on Galaxie 500 (i.e. it’s THAT good).

An extended “Gnarbone” that segues into “Three” at the rear of the set takes them into psychedelic territories that’s both woozy and brutal in equal measures. As 2019 draws to a close, Penelope Isles have every right to feel proud of their achievements so far and what’s more, the foursome’s next adventure promises to be an exciting one at that.


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