Penelope Isles, the project of UK-born and bred siblings, co-songwriters and co-vocalists Lily and Jack Wolter, recently announced Which Way To Happy, their sophomore album and follow-up to their 2018 debut Until The Tide Creeps In. Which Way To Happy—which was produced by Jack, mixed by Dave Fridmann, and will be released on November 5th via Bella Union—has been previewed with single “Sailing Still,” and “Iced Gems,” and today the band shares another incredible record teaser with the psychedelic dream-pop single “Sudoku.” “‘Sudoku’ is probably the oldest song on the album. We used to play it in our old band, Your Gold Teeth, back on the Isle of Man when Lily and I first started making music,” Jack explains. “Dad loves a sudoku puzzle whilst he’s sat on the loo. So this one is for him! It’s a special song for us and we wanted to bring it back and play it with Penelope Isles.”
Jack and Lily spent much of 2019 driving through Europe and America with their bandmates, and, like many, felt everything was falling apart when COVID-19 put their upcoming plans to a halt. The duo, dealing with their own respective romantic heartaches, and coping with the loss of two band members who were replaced with Henry Nicholson, Joe Taylor, and Hannah Feenstra who contributed during recording, (“A godsend after a low time,” says Lily) were staying in a small cottage in Cornwall to start work on the new album when lockdown began. Claustrophobia kicked in, existential anxiety over the pandemic permeated everything, and emotions ran high. “We were there for about two or three months, ultimately,” says Jack. “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 realisations, which I think reflects in the songs. Writing and recording new music was a huge part of the recovery process for all of us.”
The result is an intoxicating leap forward for the Brighton-based band, following the calling-card DIY smarts of their 2019 debut, Until the Tide Creeps In. Sometimes it swoons, sometimes it soars. Sometimes it says it’s OK to not be OK. Pitched between fertile coastal metaphors and winged melodies, intimate confessions and expansive cosmic pop, it transforms “difficult second album” clichés into a thing of glorious contrasts: a second-album surge of up-close, heartfelt intimacies and expansive, experimental vision.
Photo Courtesy: Parri Thomas