Death and the Penguin hail from Brixton and are named after a novel by Ukrainian author Andrey Kurkov. Having been compared with the likes of Radiohead, Foals and QOTSA, we have high expectations. DatP are comprised of Tobias Smith (Vocals, Guitar); Christopher Olsen (Guitar, Keyboard, Vocals); Andrew Acred (Bass Guitar, Keyboard, Vocals); and Timothy Brennik (Drums, Percussion, Vocals). Their debut EP ‘Accidents Happen’ is out the beginning of next month, but we’ve had a sneak preview. Here’s what we thought.
‘Snuffed Out’ is a great opening track with an in your face driving bass and guitar combo. This style pops up in other tracks as well like ‘Strange Times,’ but in a more QOTSA vibe. The vocals are clear, and the harmonies balance well, with sections where the instrumental drops back allowing the vocals to shine through even more. Now, everyone bangs on about the guitarists but I want to highlight their drummer Timothy. He makes amazing use of his kit in this track, exploiting all the timbres, varying between solid rhythms and driving sections. Texturally, he makes this track.
‘Space 1998’ is in direct contrast to ‘Snuffed Out’. The opening motif very much puts you in mind of space. Starting with atmospheric held notes on the keyboard with light plucked, distorted motifs on guitar and a good contrasting interruption before getting into the main body of the track. Despite the driving bass and guitar that come in, this track is so much lighter in texture. Again, Timothy showcases more textural variance and timbre in this track. The light interjecting sections with the drumstick rhythms just before the ‘Space 1998’ interjections are just perfect. The guys even showcase their vocal talents some more in this track with swooping ahh’s, oo’s and la’s proving that they can do so much more than holding a basic melody.
‘An Opening’ is a beautiful little track to break up the EP. I wouldn’t call it a filler track at all. It’s subtle and subverted, making use of held keyboard and guitar notes. It’s the perfect opportunity to show off Tobias’ vocals. Short, sweet, and a bit moody. ‘Strange Times’ brings back the big sounds with contrasting fast paced guitar, harmonised vocals and chilled out atmospheric sections. The guys play around with the textures in this track, more so than any other.
I love, love, love ‘Bitumen’. It opens so differently to the rest of the tracks. Based on hand claps and percussion with these great sustained vocal notes. Timothy slowly builds the percussion in the background, at first it seems random but then it just slots into place when the guitar and bass enter. Again near the end they seem to go off on an instrumental tangent but it makes perfect sense and resolves so effortlessly. I almost feel like they’re showing off just a bit.
‘The Words That Maketh The Murder’ changes everything up again. Instead of coming in head strong, with fast paced melodies and riffs we’re introduced to one chord repeated over and over. This really allows the vocals to stand out and make the song in this track. The chorus then goes more melodic which breaks it up perfectly.
This is a well rounded EP that showcases DatP’s musical talents perfectly. Superb vocals, excellent guitar and bass and a drummer to die for. These guys are going to be big! You can catch them at the Hoxton Bar & Kitchen on 28th April and download the full EP on 5th May.
Verdict: I love Death and the Penguin. Excuse me whilst I go put my penguin onesie on to rock out in my front room for the rest of the day…