EP Review: Pengilly's - Toby's Hill

on Monday, June 13, 2011
Pengilly's - Toby's Hill EP // Words: Kieran Toms

"I came to realise how porous I was, breathing the fumes from a car’s exhaust." Amidst eerie, ethereal harmonies, 'Toby’s Hill' (both the EP name and that of the opening track) opens with lyrics of stark sadness. The EP continues the impressive work laid by previous single, 'Ode VIII', which we featured in my Surfacing feature back in January.

I recently saw Pengilly’s in a large old church in Leeds, to launch this EP in fact, and they opened with a choir of twelve or so segueing from some sort of Gregorian chant befitting the location, straight into this first track, and despite the timelessness of the religious song there was at least as much splendour in Pengilly’s own tune and it did not seem out of place in the hallowed surroundings.

I am happy to report that the track has transferred extremely well to record too, bathed in a claustrophobic swirl of sound that sucks you into to the melancholy described in the lyrics, a swirl of such affecting intensity that it’s only when the next track starts and it stops do you realise how much it has affected your mood.

There is tremendous attention to detail in all aspects of this band. For that live performance they put the whole thing on themselves (in a church that never usually has gigs) and arranged the choir, something one might expect as a flamboyant addition to a festival headlining band’s slot, rather than to a band’s debut EP launch.

And for this release, the details are there too, both in the production, which sounds genuinely terrific, and in the craft of all four songs. There are all sorts of instruments happening beautifully all over the place but the song writing is such that it never once sounds overblown or unnecessary.

The EP’s final song, the understated 'Stillness Is Digging For Worms', serves as a kind of counterpoint to the grandness of the opening track, a solution to the quandaries expressed elsewhere in the EP, where even the very modern problem of wasting hours doing nothing on a computer is given an air of lucid weightiness in "writing things down and thinking things over".

Melodic and affecting, this is an extremely accomplished debut EP from Pengilly’s, and although your own wasted hours on the Internet today might uncover a dozen other recommended bands that you won’t ever have time to listen to properly, it really is worth checking Pengilly’s out. There is immense quality on show here.

STREAM: Pengilly's - Stillness Is Digging For Worms by fadedglamourblog

Purchase the EP at Bandcamp, where you can name your own price or buy in a bundle with Pengilly's merchandise.

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