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Album Review: Penny Peach — ‘EGO PARTY’


Have you ever been invited to an Ego Party? Me neither, but I bet they get real loud and standoffish and are filled with folks who are never unsure behind the wheel even when given the murkiest of driving directions. On Penny Peach’s new album, her first full-length and the follow-up to her standout 2021 EP, brain gamez, she presents the soundtrack to her own EGO PARTY.

Album opener “CATACOMBS” is a prog-rocker with a folk song question: “When I go will you rest my bones in the catacombs?” Why? “Because I can’t afford a mausoleum/No, I may not even swing a grave,” Penny Peach (Elly Hofmaier) admits. But she’s quick to add directions: “Save the flowers for your apartment/Just bring a friend and come sing in my cave.” The tune finally transforms into a doom-pop breakdown, featuring a brooding duet of guitar and ethereal flute supplied by Lex Leto.

Throughout the album, Penny Peach performs several call-and-response pairings with different iterations of her own voice, embodying the true spirit of an EGO PARTY. None is more effective than on “WINNER,” a power pop, set-stealing stomper that sways hard and knows it. She follows it with “BLACK ICE,” an ekphrastic blues piece that reminds us that the cool kids always did and still do have black ice air freshener trees hanging from their rear views. It’s certainly hyperbole to say that Penny Peach’s voice sounds like what those little trees smell like, but there it is. (Blake Shaw’s bass solo plays the part of rearview mirror.)

The next two tracks reveal her real vocal range, with the acoustic guitar-and organ-anthem of “AGENCY” and the swinging thrash punk of “NICO.” The latter is all BPM and barre chords. Simply put, it has a lot of strut and, again, it knows it. Which brings us finally to “JESUS PIECE,” an unmatched musical takedown of each and every guitar bro who has tried to mansplain a pedal board to Penny Peach. Here she is in full garage rock vengeance mode, leaning in hard. The second chorus:

I got a Jesus piece on my daisy chain
I got a room full of people choking on my name
I got a fire in me that you could never touch
Oh I swear I’ve already got too much

By the time “EFFORTLESS” arrives, the pitch is at a full fever. It takes a brass and woodwind sendoff to usher the last lingering guests away from the party and out into the dark. EGO PARTY is a sonic salute to an unapologetic swagger, to self-confidence in the pursuit of an identity, performance or otherwise, and more likely both at once. EGO PARTY stands in opposition to hesitancy, absent politeness and self-inflicted joy repression. And somehow, it never once stops being genuinely fun; not once.

At her EGO PARTY, Penny Peach recklessly explores the many varied capabilities of her voice, highlighting its uniquely deft and deeply powerful delivery through this valise of songs. But it’s obvious that throughout the search, she’s always sure of what exactly it is she wants to say.

This article was originally published in Little Village’s October 2022 issues.


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