The Penny Serfs – ‘Politics in the Time of Heroin’

When I was asked to give Politics in the Time of Heroin by The Penny Serfs a listen, I didn’t know what to expect. I downloaded the album, streamed it to my stereo and sat down with a beer to give it a listen. Even though I’m sitting here on my couch, I feel like I walked into my favorite venue and discovered a great band.

If I had to describe the album in one word, I would say “unique”.

The album’s sound is full of contradictions.  At once it sounds like nothing I’ve heard before and intimately familiar; parts sound like they were written in the era of The Beatles “Let It Be” while coming across completely modern. The Penny Serf’s Facebook page lists The Beatles and The Kinks as influences and you can definitely hear their inspiration as well as many more.

Over the course of the album I heard snippets of a wide variety of bands and singers I had grown up with and loved listening to over the years.  The opening track,  “Lonely Boy” has a great dream-like quality to the words and the music, reminding me of the 70’s singer-songwriters my parents would play when I was kid.   “Religious Republicans of Rock Island County” has undertones of Ben Folds while “Ode to Franklin D. Roosevelt” is a great rocking tune that would have fit perfectly on any REM album during their I.R.S. years.  The song “Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared” is my favorite on the album; sounding like The Pet Shop Boys ran into Peter Murphy and decided to collaborate on a song.

Overall I really enjoyed the album and will definitely keep on my playlist.  It’s alternative but not alienating, it doesn’t sound like anything you are hearing on the radio but it’s not something that you wouldn’t hear on the radio.

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TAGS: The Penny Serfs

Elliott Spagat

Twitter: @emspag

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