Boomkat Product Review:
Subtly warped art-pop from Franco-Belgian pop royalty Penelope Antena, whose mother is Isabella Antena of the eponymous group, and counts Marc Moulin (Telex) as her grandfather
Drawing on slanted Americana and Gospel thru no fewer than 16 players and crafty post production, Penelope hits a canny mark somewhere between Taylor Swift’s recent turns with Bon Iver and The National, the experimental ends of Solange, and even Susanna’s adult pop across a mostly straight-played, but ever so slightly curdled and off centre song-writing that piques our interests.
While usually based on a mountain top in the Occitanie region of southern France, the patent Americana inspirations of ‘Beamorose’ came from a trip to the US Midwest where Penelope befriended Brendan Forrest and a coterie of local musicians, before returning to France where she completed the album with touches of synth by Kenneth Bager among others.
The results are riddled with ohrwurms and layered in timeless harmonies, but often with a puckered bittersweetness that plays with expectations and catches the ear off guard, quite possibly keeping us listening longer than we may usually to this sort of lark, and right up to ‘Crack Cocaine,’ where some extra subtle processing make the vox sound a bit like they’re bleating after a session on the pipe, and no doubt harks back to the days of hard working, hard playing country stars as much as “Blue” Gene Tyranny or Arthur Russell takes in the same field.