It’s hard to believe Dave Milligan is a member of the slowcore outfit Arco after listening to his latest Penguin Party record. Whilst the latter’s bio suggesting “XTC covering Chas ‘n’ Dave” is an odd description, there’s certainly a sense that a cockney knees-up is only a breath away. More accurately, there’s a common theme of growing old for ‘Sex Furniture Warehouse’ but Milligan chooses to channel his thoughts through characters of a similar age, rather than focus on his own foibles.
Part-novelty and part new wave, there’s something for everyone here, provided you like music from the late 1970’s that is. If ‘At Home With Mr. Trebus’ has the aura of a British sex comedy starring Robin Askwith, ‘You Learn To Climb When You’re Small’ is rhythmic and edgy. Meanwhile, ‘It’s Not Big And It’s Not Clever’ combines the frenetic guitars of The Monochrome Set with the humour of Madness.
Even though the characters are mocked, they are presented in a loveable way which attracts curiosity rather than pity. Moreover, Penguin Party (along with The Hepburns) are now becoming a quirky British institution who inhabit a world which refuses to change with the times. Not a bad move on this evidence.
The Monochrome Set, Squeeze