The Penelopes

Eternal Spring

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The Penelopes are from Japan, but you might think they've grown up on the beaches of Southern California judging by the breezy summer shine of "Vehicle." Lead singer and jack-of-all-trades Tatsuhiko Watanabe conjures up tight but infectious pop '60s style on "Let's Get Going Again," but it doesn't have much bite to it. But "Heart and Soul" tends to give more, with the bassline and feel bringing to mind Phil Collins' cover of "You Can't Hurry Love." The slower, downbeat, and experimental "From Head to Toe" fares better thanks to the change of style, resembling a lightweight Depeche Mode. The same can also be said for the techno and hi-hat heavy "Dreams." Another sleeper pick might be "Book of Brilliant Stings," a song that would mesh well alongside The Beautiful South. The simplicity of the songs is a double-edged sword though, as evident on the catchy but stale "Girl With a Golden Heart." They may have more punch if performed in their native tongue as generally they barely hit their mark. One true stellar track is the piano-driven "Mrs. Meadow Rue," bringing to mind The Beatles or Paul McCartney. Watanabe is most comfortable on the tight pop of "Midday Stars," which resembles The Smiths. But he seems to be reaching on the run-of-the-mill number "Generosity Knocks."

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