Different worlds have always collided, vividly, in the sound of GoGo Penguin. The Manchester-based trio conjure richly atmospheric music that draws from their shared love of electronica, their grounding in classical conservatoires and jazz ensembles alongside indie bands, and a merging of acoustic and electronic techniques. Their latest album, A Humdrum Star, builds on the heady momentum of its acclaimed predecessors, the Mercury Prize-nominated V2.0 (2014) and Man Made Object (2016, marking their move to the legendary Blue Note Records), and transports it to new realms.
Vancouver guitarist David Gogo is oozing confidence on this blues-rock album, beginning with the barroom pleasing "Love in the City" with former Junkhouse lead singer Tom Wilson, who is also a member of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings. The piano only adds to its luster. Gogo isn't reinventing anything here, just good time, old-school, feel-good rock & roll accentuated by his great guitar playing. He can rumble as well judging by the slower and moody "Hit Me From Above," sounding a bit like Doyle Bramhall II or some other Austin blues-rock musician. A slower, soulful "300 Pound Shoes" takes the album down in tone but Gogo goes for broke here, pulling the song off with relative ease. "Hey Juanita" doesn't seem that strong and is rather ordinary in a roots rock type of vein like Mike Plume or Steve Earle. The piano driven "I'd Do Anything" shows a softer, bluesy vein that sounds like a long distant cousin of "Ride On" by AC/DC complete with horns. The funky "Silk and Stone" is a sleeper pick in line with the likes of Bonnie Raitt or Delbert McClinton.