No other album released this year takes as many risks and succeeds so clearly.
Lou Thomas 2009-06-15
On first album, Matinée, Jack Peñate showed glimpses of talent. In particular his soulful voice and melodic understanding distracted from the fact the album was a rather average collection of rockabilly-tinged indie. With the release of Everything Is New it's hard to think of another act that has made such a massive leap forward in scope and quality in the space of one album.
Every one of the nine songs on Everything Is New is a fascinating blend of genres, best broadly described as London soul.
In the steadily-paced, wondrously ethereal opener Pull My Heart Away, listeners are treated to handclaps, an immaculate tropicalia guitar riff and a huge multi-tracked vocal that highlights Peñate's vocal talents.
The album's second single Be The One then throws together Mississippi brass with a Northern Soul beat and more heartbreaking, swooping vocals. ''We asked the church to save our souls'', sings Jack and it sounds like some higher power may have been listening.
Next up the title track throws together utterly hypnotic afrobeat rhythms with carnival chants and copious studio echo. Basement Jaxx are the nearest reference point, but only if the Brixton pair were as relaxed as they are frantic.
Tonight's Today sees Jack return to religion (he's ''ringing churchbells'') and handclaps on what is unquestionably one of the finest singles of 2009. He sings about being in a daze like a man discovering the meaning of life.
So Near is yet another staggeringly soulful tune, this time a blend of niggly mandolin, four-to-the-floor beats and aching but simultaneously uplifting singing.
Every Glance takes thing down in tempo but not in quality and as a listener it's hard not to hang on every word as Jack intones, ''I've been trying my hardest to be a man''.
Peñate and producer Paul Epworth spent a year getting this album perfected in Epworth's Kensal Rise studio. It was clearly time well spent. There are no concessions to synth-pop chart fads and no unnecessary guest stars. Better yet, there is no competition because no other album released this year takes as many risks and succeeds so clearly.