The Penny Licks are a husband-wife two-piece, having formed only last September. If you are thinking White Stripes, then you are way wide of the mark. Beach House? A little closer. You might be familiar with Claire and Ian Turley from Claire’s work with The Nature Set and Slow Down Tallahasee, or Ian from Smokers Die Younger and Pygmy Globetrotters; it’s in the latter’s fearless electro-experimentalism that this project has its roots.
Anyone looking to get a handle on them could do worse than look up the video for the title track, ‘Cats Love Wires’. Featuring wind-up robots with Ian and Claire’s faces, it’s funny, charming and DIY. Pleasingly demented both in lyrics (‘My baby licks the batteries’) and in the eerie snatches of yelps dotted around. It’s chaos, like dicking about in MS Paint, drawing unicorns with flame throwers; finding joy in creation.
‘I Can Read Your Mind’ is a more measured affair and is the standout track. Though it takes a minimalist approach, the refrain ‘It doesn’t matter that loose lips sink ships’ is pretty killer. Meanwhile delicate organ stabs play off against an understated bassline; though lo-fi, this electronica is damn well put together.
‘Love Buzz’ may have been Nirvana’s first single, but the cover here is perhaps closer to the psychedelia and experimentation of the Shocking Blue original, and they make a decent fist of it. And yes, it might have strayed into self-indulgence by the time you get to the muzak of ‘The Party’, but you feel the point has already been made. An admirable first effort for a group still in their infancy; the electronic heritage of this city is in good hands.