Penelopes Eternal Spring

Since the early ’90s, Tatsuhiko Watanabe and his musical alter-ego the Penelopes have been part of the Japanese indie music scene. In that time, he’s released five albums of jangly guitar pop that owed a huge debt to the likes Sarah Records, Parasol and the other influential purveyors of indie pop. Eternal Spring, his first new album in four years, sees him casting his net a little wider. Not only is it the first Penelopes album to feature a drummer, propelling them towards being a band rather than a solo project, but it also has them showing a more diverse list of influences too. There are songs that sound remarkably like the Police, the Pale Fountains and even moments where there’s a touch of the Jam or the Small Faces. One of the same complaints from his previous album still applies — it is too long. Dropping a handful of songs would have streamlined Eternal Spring to a point that would have made it a lot more listenable. Still, when you are only releasing one album every four years, I suppose it is hard not to completely clean out your closet. Eternal Spring is a very happy sounding album that is definitely the band’s strongest recording to date. And with Watanabe’s concept of pop music ever-expanding, it would appear that his musical journey is just beginning. (Vaudeville Park)