Penfold "Our First Taste of Escape" CDPosted on Tuesday, November 22nd, 2005 @ 12:23pm » permalink
For my money, the general genre of emo/indie rock was absolutely at its peak in the 90's, and has suffered a pretty drastic downfall since that timeframe. However, there are occasional outfits that come along and really recapture the affecting power of those classic days, and Penfold was without a doubt one of those select few bands that kept the true aesthetic of that niche alive into the present decade – and created a downright incredible album in the process.
Formed in New Jersey in 1997, Penfold played an incredibly beautiful yet dark, textured form of what I've always referred to as "emo/indie rock" simply for lack of a better term. Technically that is the category that this music would fall into, but it's so much more than that… On the band's sole full-length, 2002's "Our First Taste of Escape", the song structures seem basic on the surface, but there's a great deal of subtle detail and layering underneath. Guitar lines weave together against flighty basslines and fluid drum patterns, moods shift from calm and somber to energetic and oddly catchy, two amazing vocalists seamlessly trade off lead duties without a hitch… it's just wonderful material. Some of the rhythms border on heavy post-hardcore grooves; sporadically a jagged or discordant chord progression will make an appearance; and of course there are tons of smooth, flowing clean passages (at times layered with acoustic guitars or keyboards). You just can't lose, and the gorgeously flawless production and highly impressive packaging simply seal the deal. If you're a fan of related genres this is an essential release, and easily ranks among the finest such records in the post-90's age.
Unfortunately, Penfold called it a day in 2003, and both their debut "Amateurs & Professionals" EP and the full-length have been extremely hard to find in recent years. I used to get loads of emails about where to get this stuff, and while both CD's were available from CD Baby at one point (they'll allegedly be "coming back in stock soon"), for now? Good luck.
Three of the band's former members went on to form The Morai – who, again unfortunately, just recently broke up after releasing their debut EP (which I still need to grab). What can I say? I really hate the fact that so many amazingly talented bands simply fall apart for whatever reason. This is the hideous world that we live in. At least we have some recorded documents to remember them by.