Penelopes Summerdew Avenue

Under the guise of the Penelopes, Tatsuhiko Watanabe has been recording his own brand of pop music since 1997. Heavily influenced by jangly British indie pop from the 1990s and, naturally, the earlier waves of British invaders too, he isn’t the most subtle of songwriters preferring to conform to a very classic template — he even throws in a couple of lines from Wings’ "Silly Love Songs” at the end of his own "Melt The Snow” as if to prove the point. Summerdew Avenue is the second in a series of seasonal tributes (continuing on from 2004’s Eternal Spring) and it is a perfectly good record. Nothing earth-shattering, just a perfectly good record with songs that are perfectly suited for AM radio and sunny summer days. Like on his previous records, Watanabe is still playing practically all the instruments on Summerdew Avenue, and while that isn’t really much of a problem, there are some moments when songs have a real home studio feel to them. Perhaps he should look into recruiting a full band so that his autumnal odyssey has a fuller sound than its predecessors. (Vaudeville Park)