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Jack Peñate: Everything Is New

Jack Peñate makes unabashed pop with an eye toward outfits like Wham and Fine Young Cannibals, acts that tried hard to create pitch-perfect, ludicrously danceable tunes. (As it happens, Peñate also looks like a young George Michael.) He emerges from a British scene that’s become severe and exacting, spawning groups like Franz Ferdinand and Maxïmo Park, which specialize in sounds often described as “angular.” Peñate’s disco—and that’s what it is, complete with synth stabs, cheeseball bells, and breathy female accompaniment—retains the precision of his peers, but has an altogether different motive: to start the party and keep it going.

A previous album, Matinee, had similar intentions, but it sometimes sounded like the work of a weekend cover band, all cargo shorts and liquid basslines. Everything Is New is lush, studio-driven, and highly orchestrated, showcasing Peñate’s increasing confidence with his role as a musical director, as opposed to simply a frontman. Take, for example, “Let’s All Die,” Everything Is New’s most upbeat number. Peñate has always been interested in death—see Matinee’s earnest, meditative “When We Die”—but this recent take on the subject is a jubilant romp, punctuated with horns, falsetto, and no small amount of joy. As with most things Peñate does these days, it entertains its titular possibility in no uncertain terms.

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