Penelope Isles – Until The Tide Creeps In review

by Phil Scarisbrick

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. For Manx siblings, Jack and Lily Wolter, a six year separation led them down a path that saw them reconvene in Brighton and form Penelope Isles with locals Becky Redford and Jack Sowton. The time apart saw the pair develop their individual talents, with the resulting collaboration producing their debut album, Until The Tide Creeps In.

Released through Brighton’s own Bella Union label, the record is an array of DIY art and psych pop numbers that – although rough around the edges – are totally endearing. The shared experiences of adolescence and burgeoning adulthood gives the listener a curious insight to their lives, although the dreamy nature of their whimsy may lead you to question how much of it is real or simply just that – a dream? Underwater Record Store is a case in point. The ode to their father takes on a deeper meaning as Lily describes a day at the beach, and the heartbreak of seeing a stranger destroy the sand castle she had crafted. Although this seems like a perfectly believable incident, the soundtrack and delivery give it a feverish, alternative reality that may have simply germinated in its author’s imagination.

Elsewhere, Gnarbone feels like the album’s anchor. It is the LP’s biggest track and at seven minutes in length it is also the longest. The hook-filled epoch is probably also the most immediate song on the whole record. Single, Chlorine, channels seventies-infused fuzz pop with an over-the-top yet stylish production, while Leipzig sits somewhere between Weezer and Pixies for another alternative pop number.

Some of the album does feel a little underwhelming, with moments of self-indulgence that stray too far from endearing towards annoying, but as far as debut records go this is definitely a good one. Not the most immediate of albums, but if you stick with it, it will certainly get its claws under your skin.

Secret Meeting score: 72


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