For every sibling band forged in rivalry, many others mount an unassailable genetic argument for keeping the music in the family. The latter is assuredly the case with Penelope Isles, a brother-sister-centred alt-rock quartet from Brighton (via Isle of Man / Devon) whose debut album, Until the Tide Creeps In, is released through Bella Union. Formed around the chemistry between dual songwriters Jack and Lily Wolter, the quartet’s expansive DIY mix of translucent dream-pop, fuzz-rock guitars and indie-psych flushes comes lovingly dipped in exquisite harmonies and lustrous melodies: a combination so intuitive, you’d think it was in their blood.
Crisp and woozy, blissful and biting, it’s an album deepened by shared experience. Album opener Chlorine is a buoyant but biting tale of what Jack calls “a heart-breaking family divide”. Between its beatific surface calm and emotional rip-tides, choppy guitars and sailing harmonies, it’s an immersive invitation to the Isles’ pool party: the first of several on an album that creates its own world and navigates it fluently, tugging you in further with every current.
That fluency takes the form of a wicked way with melody on Round, a snappy riff on romantic compulsion with an undertow of whammy-bar cool. Not Talking resembles the result of a dip in Perth’s indie-psych waters, there to bond with early Tame Impala; meanwhile, coastal metaphors and indie-rock romanticism merge to lush, lilting effect on the Lily-penned Underwater Record Store.
The sea shows its darker side in Three, where Jack recounts a tale of someone “lost in the rips of the ocean floor”. Elsewhere, the band’s command of their dynamic tides propels the thrilling seven minutes of Gnarbone and the winding, nagging melody of Leipzig, where Lily issues another invitation to her coastline dreamscape: “Come on in and dream with me I'm having a good time.” With the sardonic swagger of Jack’s Cut Your Hair (not the Pavement song, though shared values show) and impressionist lullaby of Lily’s Through the Garden striking high-contrast end-notes, Until the Tide Comes In departs leaving a distinct impression in its wake: that of a band in full control of their dual-stranded DNA.