Home Read Albums Of The Week: Emperor Penguin | Sunday Carvery

Albums Of The Week: Emperor Penguin | Sunday Carvery

Tuck into another tasty buffet of power-pop platters from these talent U.K. veterans.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Emperor Penguin’s new album Sunday Carvery is named for the band’s love of traditional British hospitality and the faded romance of the roadside diner.

The songs were written and recorded during the 2020/21 COVID lockdown. Getting together to rehearse was difficult at that time due to pandemic restrictions, so home demos were made and shared with each other, with each band member adding bits, removing bits and changing bits until the songs gradually took shape, like little musical Frankenstein’s monsters.

Since everyone makes lyrical and musical contributions to each song, they credit all compositions to the band, whoever it was that started the ball rolling. In summer 2021, producer Jamie McEvoy helped turn the rough demos into final tracks, overdubbing vocals and guitars and ending up with possibly their most polished set of songs yet. In keeping with their previous releases, the style of the songs is rooted in melodic pop with crunchy guitars. Is it “power pop”? Well, yes, but it also draws on influences as diverse as XTC, The Kinks, Teenage Fanclub and, er, Mungo Jerry and AC/DC.

Desdemona is a wild two-minute ride of jagged post-punk guitars, Sonic Youth fuzz-bass and robotic rhythm. Sputnik Sweetheart is a love song from the earthbound to the unattainable. Sputnik is Russian for satellite; it can also mean “spouse” or “traveling companion.” You Don’t Know What You’re Missing is a cautionary tale about a boorish husband’s idle threats to his downtrodden wife, set to a Kinksian/Small Faces musical mashup. Let Me Take You On Holiday is another collaboration with the “queen of power pop” Lisa Mychols — a bittersweet duet. On The Motorway is a rollicking junkshop-glam bop of a tribute to the concrete arteries of Britain.

The Ballad of Billy Farthing is an acoustic lament based on an ancestral anecdote from the family of one of the band. Fran Times a Zillion is a rowdy stomper in salute to the wit and wisdom of author, raconteur and ultimate New Yorker Fran Lebowitz. A Gun And A Badge is a hard-hitting, head-banging rocker about the legendary encounter at the White House between Elvis Presley and President Richard Nixon. The songs are as diverse and eclectic in style and subject matter as listeners will have come to expect from Emperor Penguin.

Emperor Penguin are JT (vocals, guitar, bass), Neil Christie (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Nigel Winfield (vocals, guitar) and Richard Wilson (drums, piano). They make pop music with noisy guitars. Originally active in the ’90s, with original bassist Adrian Long, the band reformed in 2016 and have released four albums: Crumhorn (recorded by the original lineup in 2000, released 2016), Rum Pop Engineer (2017), Walnut Fascia (2018) and Soak Up The Gravy (2019).”