Album of the Day: Penelope Isles, “Until The Tide Creeps In”
By Margaret Farrell · July 19, 2019 Merch for this release:
Compact Disc (CD), Cassette, Vinyl LP

The brother-and-sister-led quartet Penelope Isles specialize in a combination of dreamy folk-pop and fuzzy, sometimes psychedelic guitar rock. On their debut album Until The Tide Creeps In, the Brighton-based group channel their summery sound into an extended psalm for the ocean—its inviting waves, its serene coasts, and especially its primordial fury. Consider opener “Chlorine”: hissing distortion bubbles up like sea foam against the robust melodies, as the towering riffs tumble down onto one another like the tide; opalescent keyboards and chimes temper the noisy disturbances ever so slightly, adding texture and depth.

On the remaining cuts, Penelope Isles dive into more surreal waters. On “Three,” Jack Wolter’s eerie cries stretch out against wailing guitar, building to a cataclysmic finale. Later on “Looking For My Eyes First,” Lily Wolter aches over a lost connection; she resents the sky for its intangibility and the sea for its desolation, but nothing feels as painful as the person she’s lost: “Are you looking for me?” she sings wistfully. Fortunately, there’s a happy ending: On “Underwater Record Store,” Lily recalls a dream where “a crowd running through the sand” ruined the sandcastle she was building, and how for retail therapy, she and her father dove to the bottom of the ocean, covered in salt, “flicking through records on the floor.” That fantastic imagery captures the mood of the record as a whole: with its gossamer swirls of guitar and hypnotic baroque melodies, Until The Tide Creeps In is full of magical moments that contemplate the Earth’s unknowability, and the complicated humans that inhabit it.

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