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On August 18th, Jack Peñate will release Everything is New, the follow-up to his 2007 debut, Matinee. Peñate built his reputation on an animated live set and a first single that blew through it’s initial 1,000 copy vinyl pressing in 2006. Although he was a bit too young to truly appreciate them in the moment (Peñate was born in 1984), his music feels profoundly influenced by fellow U.K. bands who rose to prominence in the ’80s such as Aztec Camera. His most frequently comparison, however, is to the vocal stylings of Billy Bragg–big shoes to fill but a comparison that is nothing if not favorable.
As “Tonight’s Today” illustrates, however, those influences only tell half of the story. The other half has to do with a love affair with music of all stripes. In this song’s skittering guitar track, for instance, one hears strains of the polyrhythmic Afrobeat tradition. Elsewhere, thick choruses of background singers raise the song onto their shoulders in triumph over subtle layers of percussion and a throbbing bass line. Above it all, there is Peñate himself, his unpretentious vocal delivery belied by his capability of deftly scaling melodies. The whole song comes together so effortlessly, one could be forgiven for thinking it was born into the world already neatly assembled. When it ends, with the bottom suddenly dropping out and a final bass note lingering in one’s consciousness, there is almost a sadness to the finality.
“Tonight’s Today” is the sort of song that begs to be listened to on repeat–distinctive, upbeat, and perilously addictive. If the rest of Everything New follows suit, we’re all in for a late summer treat.