PENELOPE ISLES – ” Which Way to Happy “

Posted: November 9, 2021 in MUSIC

British sibling duo Penelope Isles (Lily and Jack Wolter) are releasing a new album, “Which Way to Happy”, on November 5th via Bella Union Records. On Tuesday, they shared the album’s fourth and final pre-release single, “Terrified.”

Jack Wolter had this to say about the song in a press release: “It’s about those days when you’re dying inside but have to pop out to the shop, bumping into someone, having to put on a magic show, pretending to appear that everything is OK. It’s a song that has such a happy-fun-summery exterior but lyrically is totally the opposite. It’s one of self-doubt, displacement and finding something really terrifying to handle. Sometimes we hide a lot behind ourselves. ‘Terrified’ was an outlet for me to be able to tackle scary thoughts and worries in more of an abstract way. Things can seem impossible to talk about and articulate sometimes. I feel that making this album has enabled me and my sister Lily to open up a lot more and be honest with our songs as it just makes them so much more real.”

Which Way to Happy” is the band’s sophomore album and follows their debut album, Until the Tide Creeps In, released in 2019 also via Bella Union. Jack produced the album, which was mixed by Dave Fridmann. New backing band members Henry Nicholson, Joe Taylor, and Hannah Feenstra all contributed to the recording of “Which Way to Happy“, as did composer Fiona Brice.

As the pandemic took hold, Jack and Lily decamped to a cottage in Cornwall to begin writing and recording the album.

“Terrified” is taken from the Penelope Isles album “Which Way To Happy” released 5th November 2021 via Bella Union

“We were there for about two or three months,” says Jack in a press release. “It was a tiny cottage and we all went a bit bonkers, and we drank far too much, and it spiralled a bit out of control. There were a lot of emotional evenings and realizations, which I think reflects in the songs. Writing and recording new music was a huge part of the recovery process for all of us.”

Which Way to Happy is Penelope Isles’ second album, which was started at the end of a very fruitful 2019, having toured the heck out of that year’s Until the Tide Creeps In and becoming a stellar live unit. But then they were dealt a series of blows, first losing their rhythm section and then having Covid strike just as the new line-up of the band convened in a small cottage in Cornwall, England to start work. Cabin fever merged with pandemic fever. “We all went a bit bonkers, and we drank far too much, and it spiraled a bit out of control,” Jack said.

They truly came out the other side, though, as Which Way to Happy is a real step forward from “Until the Tide Creeps In”, feeling both bigger and more intimate. The anxiety they went through making the album is clearly present in the lyrics — the album opens with songs titled  “Terrified” and “Rocking at the Bottom” — but they counter the mania with absolutely gorgeous melodies, and arrangements. “Play it Cool” takes jazzy R&B and applies it to a shoegazey haze; “Iced Gems” is appropriately crystalline but never shatters; and “Have You Heard” is driving guitar pop perfection. Penelope Isles excel at epic ballads and they deliver two stunners in the massive “Miss Moon,” that is heavy enough in parts to affect the tides, and the orchestral, melancholy “Sailing Still.”

The album includes “Sailing Still,” a new song the band shared in July via a video directed by Jack and starring Lily. Then when the album was announced they shared its second single, “Iced Gems,” . Then they shared the album’s third single, “Sudoku,” via a video for the track .

Earlier this year Lily (under her alter-ego KookieLou) sang guest vocals on the Lost Horizons song “Heart of a Hummingbird,” .

UK band led by siblings Lily and Jack Wolter make a big leap forward on their ambitious, beautiful second album

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