- from Leonard's Lair (Sept 2014)
Review: The Penguin Party – Mesherlek
The Penguin Party’s career thus far has been represented by an especially fun variation of the new wave scene or, in their words, “XTC covering Chas ‘n’ Dave”. Led by the tongue in cheek lyrics of singer/guitarist/music show host Dave Milligan, ‘Mesherlek’ is unlikely to win new converts but maintains the usual, curiously affable Englishness.
When the first few songs on the album include ‘I Wanna Be A Cult’ (which comes complete with recorded crowd noise and a sitar solo) and a track named ‘Token Tree-Hugging Ecological Song’ performed as a brass band ensemble (“It’s not very heartfelt and it’s not very long”), you’d be absolutely right in thinking this is music that doesn’t take itself too seriously. To hammer the point home further, the Ska-flavoured ‘Do You Know Who I Am?’ is a catchy little number in an acceptable Chas ‘N’ Dave tradition but ‘The Ballad Of Zorro The Cat’ and ‘Let’s Go Down To The Seaside’ are surely a step too far into Vaudeville.
Putting the humour to one side though, does ‘Mesherlek’ stand up as an album? There’s certainly a real mix of styles of here but some songs really stand out. Assisted by gentle strings, ‘The Anti Russell Brand’ is unerringly melodic with an ace chorus whilst the infectious ‘Glorious’ possesses a lovely flow (and that’s not a hip-hop type of “flow”, suffice to say). Then later, ‘Trust Games’ is reminiscent of prime period Squeeze and the uncharacteristically moody ‘My Big Bad Self’ recalls early Pulp.
Less consistently satisfying on a musical level than 2008’s ‘See Thru Songs’ but certainly wittier, ‘Mesherlek’ treads that uneasy line between music and comedy but emerges as a strangely lovable beast overall. So it’s a thumbs up to this particular knees up, then.
- From Tom Robinson, BBC 6 Music (Jun 2011)
"There may be a better way to start the show than with the storming Essex 4-piece The Penguin Party, but if there is I certainly can't think of it
Like Marmite: Not everyone's gonna like that song, but I ADORE it! Right up my strasse"
- From Powerpopaholic
Dave Milligan has a lovable quirky attitude on this Penguin Party album. "Mike Leigh-on-sea" is an impressive XTC styled single, and the album goes off on the theme of senior citizenship with typical British jangle and whimsy. The production is sparse compared to the last album, and it brings us a homey intimacy on "She Was Only A Roofer's Daughter." It's like Martin Newell doing a sing-a-long in the pub, especially on the charming "Song For My Old Lady." Sometimes it looses it's way getting too jokey (like an old Monty Python tune) or experimental. But there are more than enough gems here (like the terrific "Whatever Happened to Tomorrow's World?") to make it worth your while. Fans of Mr. Newell and Mr. Partridge shouldn't miss this one.
- From Leonard's Lair
It’s hard to believe Dave Milligan is a member of the slowcore outfit Arco after listening to his latest Penguin Party record. Whilst the latter’s bio suggesting ”XTC covering Chas ‘n’ Dave” is an odd description, there’s certainly a sense that a cockney knees-up is only a breath away. More accurately, there’s a common theme of growing old for ‘Sex Furniture Warehouse’ but Milligan chooses to channel his thoughts through characters of a similar age, rather than focus on his own foibles.
Part-novelty and part new wave, there’s something for everyone here, provided you like music from the late 1970′s that is. If ‘At Home With Mr. Trebus’ has the aura of a British sex comedy starring Robin Askwith, ‘You Learn To Climb When You’re Small’ is rhythmic and edgy. Meanwhile, ‘It’s Not Big And It’s Not Clever’ combines the frenetic guitars of The Monochrome Set with the humour of Madness.
Even though the characters are mocked, they are presented in a loveable way which attracts curiosity rather than pity. Moreover, Penguin Party (along with The Hepburns) are now becoming a quirky British institution who inhabit a world which refuses to change with the times. Not a bad move on this evidence.
~ What JosieJo Thinks Of That (www.milligans.biz)
For all of you who bemoan the demise of cover notes and those fabulous pull out bits of Album sleeves that we used to pour over in our youth, welcome to "Sex furniture Warehouse and other Stories" by the essex based band The Penguin Party. The album comes packaged in its own book which includes the lyrics and photographs that provide a witty nod to the quirky-pop, quirky-clever, and sometimes quirkily-dark album within.
You won't find a band surprised that hearts get broken or that teenage boys like cars. What you will find is crafted power-pop sneakily wrapped round life stories from a bunch of guys who lived and, sort of, learnt. If you've got a middle-aged hangover again (and who hasn't) try "It's Not Big". If you've fallen in love with your wife all over again after bringing up kids together try "Song For My Old Lady" and if you've ever thought your Dad did a great job just being your dad or you are a transvestite roofer, then try "Roofer's Daughter"
This is just a great English band telling great stories that will catch in your head make you go "yeah I know what you mean"
This album probably won't change the world or even your life, but it'll probably make you laugh and make you feel just a bit better about not being a teenage boy with a broken heart who likes cars.
from Keith Fellows on http://www.amazon.co.uk
P-p-p-p-p-pick up a Great Album,
The Penguin Party's album; - Sex Furniture Warehouse and Other Stories - is really good. If you don't believe me just ask the band. They love it ! And they're not the only ones. Their friends like it too. In fact I defy any one (who's heard it) NOT to like it. From the first 'Ooooh!' of the quirky 'At Home With Mr Trebus' (a man who lives in a Furniture Warehouse) to the final 'Thank You Very Much' of 'It's Just Your Life Time' this album oozes fun and lovable charm. With catchy songs, witty; funny lyrics and precise musicianship it is a treat for the ears. Dave Milligan's unique observations of the world around him ring bells of familiarity to every middle class, mid-life-crisis'd, middle-age-spreaded British male (even the cross-dressing ones). The album will give you a bigger buzz than Mike Leigh-on-Ecstasy.
REVIEWS for the first album "See Thru Songs"
"...sounds like what happens if Peter & Gordon crashed into the early (Go Now) Moody Blues." Falalalala.com
"Accessible, spangly songs dealing with everyday matters such as obsession, betrayal and mental illness...."
"..typically British pop charm..quirky but stylish..classic observational pop..naively intelligent..beautifully and sensitively crafted..poetic lyrics..refreshingly individualistic..clever playfulness..thought provoking and evocative..strange but nicely rewarding album..well conceived, superbly written and beautifully performed..an enjoyable and fascinating work" - www.toxicpete.co.uk "...cooler than a real penguin’s party..more quintessentially British than fish and chips..quirky and individualistic..engagingly charming.. memorably tuneful..literally reels you in…lurking within the album are cleverly constructed lyrics about all manner of human experiences…" - Jeff Perkins, Blogcritics Magazine (Oct 23, 2008)
"..sticky hooks, quirky arrangements and choruses that insist on taking up residence (you’ll be singing these songs in the shower)..like the best pop..governments definitely won’t fall, but sun-drenched drives in the country, with the windows down, will be enhanced"
- Leicester Bangs
"Highly tuneful and charming, with just the right air of quirkiness to rank it as one of the better nostalgically-flavoured records of recent times"
- Leonard's Lair
"A cool, engaging release – it has a hypnotic quality that pulls you in. Milligan is not playing it safe with his pop inspirations with his healthy love of early Squeeze, Nick Lowe and Martin Newell, it’s a distinctively British take on pop craftmenship but it works extremely well.. "
- Not Lame
"Very catchy, very charming..The rootsy "..Grandma's" is a Kinks & Nick Lowe-inspired sing-along! The chirpy and jangly "She Smells" is another "Argybargy" influenced song! The vocal interplay throughout recalls the Difford/Tillbrook dynamic of Squeeze. EXCELLENT!!!"
- Kool Kat Musik
...very English nostalgic music hall pop...a compelling listen...reminds me of Andy Partridge...the best fun here is pub anthem "Goin' Back To Grandma's" with the hummable chorus and foot stompin' beat...a lot of subtle shifts in mood and genre...charming pop that will sit well with ye merry anglophile power pop fans
"Warning. Just like all well written pop you will find yourself singing these songs at highly inappropriate moments."