Original article here: http://www.fatea-records.co.uk/magazine/2013/PennyBlack.html
The Penny Black Remedy
Album: Inhale… Exhale… OK, Now You Can Panic…
London-based The Penny Black Remedy is a distinctive and colourful quartet purveying an unusual fusion of Balkan-tinged Americana and ska with a punk bordello charge that gets you up on the floor from the word go, but their punchy-yet-wordy lyrics (all from the pen of band songwriter Keith M. Thomson) also seem to get you singing along! Opening gambit Some People Just Don’t Seem To Know When To Quit (a typically long song-title!) brings a madcap dash to a Chumba-style lyric, while the ensuing Putting The Mental Into Sentimentality jumps its klezmer off a springboard of surf twang to drive home its unlikely sentiment (couched in equally unlikely vocal harmonies).
Life-affirming showtime-style quick-fire patter à-la-Suggs characterises much of the material, especially I’ve Got This Friend and Nice Things Happen When You Stop Complaining, and right through to the album finale This Conversation Is Officially Now Over (yeah, that’s tellin’ us!). And I’d defy anyone to remain either pedimentarily or tonsorially unaffected by the glorious dancing rhythms of Hypochondria Is Not An Illness! The pace might slacken momentarily for the sultry, jazzy You’ll Thank Me In The Morning (on which Croatian vocalist Marijana Hajdarhodzic steps into the spotlight), the languorous Downright Lazy and the vaguely countrified Half An Alpha, but the wit and intelligence in the writing doesn’t ever let up. Similarly, if perhaps against expectations, Up To My Neck In A Hex which honestly chronicles Keith’s own personal situation, his “readiness to escape from his psychologically restrictive beliefs in, adherence to and the subsequent vicious cycles of age-old superstitions, curses and plain bad luck” (this highly accessible track is being released as a digital-only single).
The whole album is a thrilling ride, one obligatory purchase for the inveterate foot-tapper and one which gives much of the flavour of this irresistible high-octane festival-favourite live act. No panic then!