‘Inhale... Exhale... OK, Now You Can Panic’ is the latest album from THE PENNY BLACK REMEDY, and follows on from 2009's ‘No One’s Fault But Your Own’. Since the band’s formation in 2007, they have been getting rave reviews for their heady mix of Balkan folk, Americana, punk and ska and it's not hard to hear why.
The current line-up of the band is Keith M Thomson from Scotland on vocals and guitar,Croatian vocalist Marijana Hajdarhodzic, the Dutch drummer Wilco van Eijk, bassist Paul Slack, and the band is augmented by the ‘Horns of Fury’. What I particularly like about this album (and the previous one) is the mish mash of styles, and the cleverly crafted songwriting that Keith produces – pointed but humorous lyrics which get to the heart of every situation.
The album opens with ‘Some People Just Don’t Know When To Quit’, a song which is instantly accessible and danceable, being a mix of Balkan style gypsy folk and twangy guitar. The lyrics are darkly humorous regarding people’s ability to continually bang their heads against a brick wall so to speak: - “It’s hard, I guess, to have the courage, to admit that you’ve missed/ Golden opportunities, which stared you in the face/ Apologies, they are not needed, when you already have peoples’ sympathies/ But when to quit boy, oh, that’s the tricky bit/ Some people just don’t know...”
If, after four minutes and forty five seconds of a song like this, you’re not moved, then you’re completely missing the point! Elsewhere, though, I loved the smoky jazz number ‘You’ll Thank Me In The Morning’, featuring some excellent brass, and a nice line in jazz guitar. Here, Marijana takes the lead vocals, which suit her husky voice so well: - “You ran out of money, you ran out of luck. It’s gone beyond the immaterial...Yes, everyone has their problems, and sometimes it’s a matter of fate/ But I’m sure you know it won’t help you by drinkin’ like someone’s gonna take it away/You’re gonna thank me in the morning.”
For me, though, the best track on the album was ‘Putting The Mental Into Sentimentality’ (great title). This was sung at a breakneck pace and featured some excellent guitar – part ‘Ghost Riders In The Sky’, part Dick Dale and the Deltones. Once again, the lyrics have a dark humour: - “I was unusually nostalgic recently. For a time I was allowed to wallow in my misery/ These days it’s impossible to feel down/ Without someone empathising or knowing what you mean/ Oh, I used to think that I was special and unique/I was practically a loner; I was socially inept and weak."
'Inhale...Exhale...' is a really strong album that will hopefully not only consolidate The Penny Black Remedy's position with their fan base, but will also attract a load of new listeners as well. This is well worth getting hold of, also check out some of the live gigs that will be played across the UK throughout August/September detail are available at:
The Penny Black Remedy online"