BENEFIT OF DOUBT - Penelope (Martyrs of Pop)
French quintet combines a hard garage sound with synthesiser pop. Not normally my bag but this four-track EP goes down OK. These days you have to take your rock and roll where you can get it and if sounds like a cross between Serge Gainsborough and The Sonics, well you need to listen with your ears open and hard liquor close at hand.
The first thing you need to understand is that there's no band member named Penelope. The next is that they weave synth right through the middle of every song - alarmingly so in "Cheap Champagne" which borders on sounding like Steely Dan with mellow electric piano. Alan Vega and Marty Rev, these guys are not.
The title track opens and it's the pick of the litter, starting as a strident rocker before lurching off into left-of-field with an odd drop-out and some swirly keys. Think of it as Psych Lite. "Lucky Star" has a nagging guitar figure and mid-tempo feel. "Dead Inside" borrows a sequencer from Mi-Sex but thankfully doesn't ram it down your throat.
It ain't easy finding a fresh place in the over-crowded garage and this is a fair effort at doing so. Think of Penelope as a Gallic version of Rocket Science with the froth turned down.- The Barman
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