Throughout the course of this year, I’ve written a bit about the rising Brighton, UK-based indie rock quartet Penelope Isles. Led by its Devon, UK-born, Isle of Man-raised sibling songwriting duo Jack Wolter and Lilly Wolter, the band also features Jack Sowton and Becky Redford. Unsurprisingly, the band is centered by the bond between the Wolters, a band that was ironically strengthened when Jack, who’s six years older, moved out of the family home at 19 to study art. “By the time I moved home, Lil was not so much of an annoying younger sister anymore and had grown up and started playing in bands and writing songs. We soon become very close. I had written some songs, so we started a band called Your Gold Teeth. We toured a bit and then Lily left for Brighton to study songwriting.”
While Lily Wolter studied in Brighton, she met Jack Sowton and Becky Redford, with whom she formed a band. As the story goes, when Lily Wolter returned home for the holidays, the idea of a forming a new band rapidly developed. Though Jack and Lily have long written separately, they chucked their disparate songs into a shared song pot, their new band was fueled by a passion for DIY alt rock/indie rock — and are influenced by the likes of Deerhunter, Pixies, Tame Impala, Radiohead and The Thrills among others.
So far, this year has been a big year for the Brighton-based act. They signed a record deal with Bella Union Records, who released their full-length debut Until the Tide Creeps In earlier this year. Thematically, the album is informed by the Wolters’ shared experience — in particular, leaving home to start your life and the various transitions you’ll experience in your life as you begin to experience adulthood. “We are six years apart, so we had a different experience of some of this, but we share a similar inspiration when writing writing music. Family, leaving home, disconnection and connection all ring bells!”
“Chlorine,” Until the Tide Creeps In’s Sleepy Sun-like album opener was centered around an arrangement that subtly bridges shimmering dream pop, shoegaze and fuzz pop — and while buoyant and seemingly ethereal, the song possessed a bracing quality, much like stepping into a cold shower. Interestingly, the song has an underlying emotional push and pull; the sort of complexity brought about by obligation and duty and the need to go out on your own. The album’s latest single is the woozy “Round,” a track that sonically seems to mesh 70s AM rock with shoegaze as the track is centered by a looping and shimmering guitar line and a soaring hook. And much like its predecessor, the new single will further establish the band’s bracingly wistful take on a familiar and beloved sound — all while evoking the ebb and flow of complicated and ambivalent emotions.
The recently released released video for “Round” is a lysergic and technicolor fever dream that features a person walking and dancing around a very British-looking town in an inflatable, round suit in bright colors with floating images of the band performing the song in the background. “‘Round’ was the first song I wrote when I moved to Brighton a few years ago. I wrote it on a dan electro 12 string, which I had to sell to pay the rent,” the band’s Jack Wolters says in press notes. “We played the song constantly when we first started gigging and ended up leaving it out of the set for a while. We revisited it, as it felt weird to not include it on this record. We made the video in Brighton on one of the hottest days of the year. It consists of footage of Lily, dressed in a large round blow-up suit that pulsates with bright psychedelic colors and floating images of the band. We had a laugh making this one!”