Pure M Magazine (June 12, 2015)– star rating 4.5/ 5
Irish indie rock ensemble Penrose has its roots in a two person act originally started by musician Darragh McGrane in 2013. The duo quickly began to build up hype by performing at venues such as Sweeney’s and The Mercantile, as well as through appearances on Balcony TV and Radio Nova.
The line-up has gradually expanded and evolved over the last two years, currently consisting of rhythm guitarist Caolan Fitzsimons, bassist Mark Bolger and drummer Alan Byrne alongside McGrane on vocals and guitar. Right now, the Dublin based quartet are preparing to unleash their four track debut EP, Live for the Dream, just in time for summer.
The compilation gets going with the swift and stirring riff of “See You Again”, which persists behind a heartfelt harmony. This leads into an upbeat and infectious chorus during which the atmosphere remains rousing. Its enthralling instrumental execution keeps things lively, while the vocals are rich with passion and enthusiasm from start to finish.
“Melody” bounces in next upon a cheerful beat that sticks around as a sunny and spirited verse takes off. The catchy chorus is just as energetic and absorbing, adding to the delightfully upbeat ambience of the piece. Its altogether bright and buoyant demeanour makes for an offering that’s as uplifting as it is exciting.
“Harmony” is more solemn and serious afterwards, but still carries plenty of vigour and vitality. Fervent vocals and poignant instrumentation generate an affecting air which feels full of depth and meaning.
It’s followed by the soft and serene introduction of “Where You Go Now”. This is ahead of a reserved harmony that echoes gently across a warm and relaxed riff. After building towards an emotional instrumental outburst, mellow vocals bridge the gap to a bracing guitar session which culminates in a loud and captivating climax.
Penrose have put together an extremely accomplished and arresting record here, especially considering it’s only their inaugural effort. Each of its entries unfold with the skill and proficiency of a band with years of experience, resulting in a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience. Live for the Dream will be available to own in July, but for now you can check it out on Soundcloud.
The Last Mixed Tape (July 2015) - star rating 8/10
Starting off a clatter of studio atmospherics that leads straight into widescreen jangle of ‘See You Again’, there can be no doubt that Penrose’s debut E.P. is a stylised affair built from layered guitars, harmonies and background textures.
A promising start continues as the group’s Brit-pop inflected songwriter comes to fore in tracks like ‘Melody’, a song covered in the bouncing, upbeat vibrancy that indie-rock is capable of when in the right hands and Penrose do seem to be in complete control of this.
However, it is in the large-scale ambition of ‘Harmony’ that Penrose really stand-out from the crowd. With little held back the group reach for the opulent production and hi-fi scope of the Brit-pop era with confidence, big dramatic strings, catchy choruses and scene stealing guitar solo all merge together to deliver a full-on indie-rock anthem.
Penrose clearly have love and understanding for their influences. Whether it be the full anthemic Oasis styled indie of ‘Harmony’ or jangle of ‘See You Again’ Penrose recreate it with passion, this is undeniable. While Live For The Dream is not a dramatic re-imagining of the indie-rock formula, it is a faithful exploration of it and one that the Dublin act can build on in the future.
Unsigned & Independent (June 2015) - star rating 10/10
With a lavish 60’s revisionist allure, “See You Again” is one of those tracks with a captivating allure found in the play. That is a quality that is rather forthright but the candid demeanour of everything collectively is felt out in a way that everything is tidied away. With how it falls into place there is an undeniable chic demeanour that is majestic as much as it is rich in calibre. After that we come to “Melody”. Again this has a vibrant kick about it that is sternly kept in check. The rhythm is colourful here and the tidy shape of the melody is also noted for alll the right reasons. A rather safe tune in some respects but it is not a by - the - numbers affair. Instead it is a clever number and that approach is one that very much gets the best out of everything on show here. “Harmony” sees them come up with the goods. The maturity in the songwriting comes to pass and how everything comes full circle, with the scope of the play meeting an ambitious approach, really draws you in and confirms the sense of purpose that they have in the artistic sense.
Final track “Where You Go Now” is a more agreeable affair. The observation in the lyrics is a bit Beatle-esque in how it writes about home as much as it reflects. But how it progress draws a more suitable comparison with Primal Scream because it is blessed with an Indie calling. The way the handling steadies the delivery coaxes the worth through in an appreciated way but also sees a long bridge play across here that is stellar.
DublinConcerts.ie - star rating 8/10
Dublin’s Penrose have been on the go since 2013, originally as an acoustic duo but now fleshed out as a quartet. Often found at the Retro Revival shows in Sweeney’s Bar, alongside garage rockers The Urges, and fellow mods Gangs, they’ve a penchant for smart threads and smarter tunes. Live For The Dream is their debut release consisting of four tracks that follow a classic English pop path once faithfully walked by The Kinks, The La’s and Oasis.
‘See You Again’, the opening track on the EP, is an acoustic-led melancholic number which shimmers along, Darragh McGrane’s warm vocals complimented by rich harmonies. As it builds, it adds strings and some cool “wo-ahs” which thankfully stay the right side of stadium rock. It would make a perfect radio tune if it were about a minute shorter. Still, it’s a confident opening number.
‘Melody’ opens with a strange sample (that reminds me worryingly of the child catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) before jumping into a glam rock stomp. The staccato down-strummed guitar and tempo has echoes of ‘Digsy’s Dinner’ and it’s a smart upbeat song which has memorable hooks all the way through. Single written all over it.
Third track ‘Harmony’ is a mid-pacer, with clever use of piano and strings, which again brings to mind Oasis as it climaxes with a guitar solo Noel would be chuffed with. “We will be in harmony” sings McGrane, and he’s not wrong as once more it’s those gorgeous harmonies and vocals which come to the fore, alongside a memorable bridge which is almost as catchy as the chorus – not an easy trick to pull off.
‘Where You Go Now’ is for me, the weakest track on the EP, starting slowly but unfortunately failing to build from there. The tempo is downbeat and the key changes fairly uninspiring. You don’t hear the same hooks you hear in the previous three songs. It tries to redeem itself with a gushing sea of effects as it ends but in truth, this seems contrived and out of kilter with the rest of the EP. Penrose don’t need to resort to such tactics – phrasing, musicianship and all round tunesmithery are this band’s strengths.
Overall, a strong debut release from a band who’ve honed their songwriting on the live circuit, resulting in four songs here that sound polished but not over-produced. It could probably have benefitted from one more faster paced number if only to add variety and balance. More importantly, it’s a timely release with a hazy, summery feel, and Penrose will undoubtedly please many gig-goers on this season’s festival circuit. You can catch them at Dublin’s Grand Social on 25 July.