Named after a satirical Ukrainian novel by Andrey Kurkov, Londoners Death and the Penguin have been quietly creating a buzz since emerging in 2013. Having played a few shows with Spectral Nights favourites Spring Offensive, we were excited to hear the results of their debut EP ‘Accidents Happen’, released via Best Before Records in May.
Wonderfully reminiscent of My Vitriol, ‘Snuffed Out’ starts proceedings with a bang, angular and shoegazing guitars very much at the forefront. ‘Can’t you see there’s a party in the water, can’t you see that there’s a party in the lake?’ is sneered with a fervour that is hard to shake. The slower post-rock introduction of ‘Space 1988’ showcases a more retrospective side to the band and is akin to The Twilight Sad covering The Appleseed Cast. A ferocious attack on people who are not entirely truthful, the lines of ‘Who watches the watchmen?’ and the repeated spoken shouts of the song’s title may be slightly disconcerting but they’re also strikingly expressive.
The math-rock aggression present on ‘Strange Times’ shows yet another side to this polymath of a band. There’s a lot of accessibility in the riffs and hooks, but an unsettling darkness in the lyrics: ‘Born into strange times, lost in a crazed mind’. ‘Bitumen’ opens with a slice of New Pornographers-style intrigue as drums and chants combine to dramatic effect. As it moves along, it heads into a Foalsy direction, although there’s also a sense of Evertything Everything’s penchant for the askew in the way the song builds up and then twists its way into a glorious mess of empowered vocals, frenetic riffs and splendidly skewed soundscapes.
The closing song ‘The Words that Maketh Murder’ not only has a titillating and wickedly narcissitic title, but also heart-on-sleeve anthemics that relentlessly pursue – and capture – the dramatic climax the EP so deserves. As the title is spat out over and over again, you can’t help but admire Death and the Penguin’s relentless and rhythmic rock sound.