The perfect blend of pop harmonies and rock instrumentation, Penrose are a four-piece, all male Dublin band and basically the love child of Noel Gallagher and Damon Albarn. Their debut EP Live For the Dream was released in summer 2015, but the band have been around for two years, starting as a two man creation of front man Darragh McGrane. Penrose then expanded to a four-piece: Caolan Fitzsimons on rhythm guitar, Mark Bolger on bass and Alan Byrne on drums, with all three providing backing vocals. The band have played popular venues such as Sweeneys and The Mercantile, and along with various national radio appearances, the band have gained a small, but dedicated following.
Live For the Dream was unveiled live in July at the Grand Social and was met with fan and critical acclaim. Listening to the album, it’s really not hard to hear why. The opening track, ‘See You Again’ has nearly 1,500 plays on the band’s Soundcloud, and introduces the EP with strong indie overtones and pop undertones. There is a formulaic, 4/4 bar, structured aspect to the song that fires it into the realm of ‘pop’, but the raw vocals and edgy guitar ensure this isn’t a bad thing, and gives the track depth. The backing vocals add interest without being over the top, and the consistently rhythmic drum beat makes it hard for your toes to stay still. All elements combined are a perfect launch into the rest.
Track number two, the aptly named ‘Melody’ opens with a 1950’s school prom type opening speech (similar to that of Nirvana’s ‘In Bloom’ video, interestingly enough), and shoots into a similar pop harmony laden track as before. Undeniably upbeat and fitting for a ‘skipping down the street’ movie montage, this is a real stick in the head track. The lads want to make feel good music, which is refreshing for an indie band, and works well. The lyrics aren’t cheesy, but aren’t too deep either. The instrumentation is tight and complimentary of each other, and the whole ensemble makes for a happy, solid track that would be great live with an audience singing along.
Track three, again cleverly named ‘Harmony’ takes things down a notch with a slower, almost ballad style song , with strong Oasis influences. The lyrics are a little more heartfelt here, and are sung with a passion and vocal range that progresses the EP into something more substantial, and shows a different side to the band. The drum beats and guitar rhythms are more complicated here, too, fitting in well with the more intense vocals, but not getting drowned out by them. There is a sense of a ‘real’ band dynamic here, no one instrument taking the forefront, but all working together to create a sound that is unique. ‘Where You Go Now’ closes the EP with a similar slower track again, the drummer adding a rimshot to create a rock and roll, almost bluesy feel. The vocals continue the intensity and passion, with sweet and well-written lyrics that flow into the guitar rhythms. The chorus is strong and the band have added a guitar solo interlude to this track, rounding the EP out as more 90’s rock/pop than anything else.
Penrose are launching their single for ‘Melody’ on October 22nd in The Academy, and will surely be a night not to be missed. The band have an old-school feel that makes it hard to believe this was only released a couple of months ago, as they take the better aspects of modern pop music but combine them with classic brit pop/rock riffs, rhythms and melodies to create something totally their own, and I’m sure there will be many albums to come.