Release Date: 31/01/2020
Record Label: MVKA Records
For Fans Of: Black Futures, Enter Shikari, Hacktavist
A grime/punk crossover act seems like it would be the most natural combination in the world. Both styles strive for a gritty ‘street’ feel and act as a rallying call for the youth and downtrodden in society, providing a means of expression for those trying to find their place. With this in mind it’s quite surprising that it has taken this long for a band like PENGSHUi to come about. Although the hip-hop/rock mash-up is nothing new, the approach of the trio feels fresh enough to mark them out as something different in the crowded UK music scene.
Whereas Hacktivist and Astroid Boys brought together a traditional rock sound and added elements of hip-hop and grime through rapped choruses and sampled sections, PENGSHUi reach far beyond this by actually blending the two styles together in a far more cohesive way. Real instruments and computerised synths come together almost seamlessly so that the record feels like far more of a band effort rather than a production job fronted by an MC and a live drummer. The main strength of the album though comes through its heaviness and its energy. Every song goes at 110% and is bursting with personality, it wouldn’t be quite right to say their sound is original, but other acts would be hard pressed to try and replicate the ad-libbed feel of much of PENGSHUi’s vocal work.
Unfortunately, despite the energy and how well their sound works, the tracks themselves let the record down. After the first three songs you have heard pretty much all there is to get from the album as familiar patterns seem to emerge and even the interludes fail to provide any real variety. What makes it even more frustrating is that there are moments where they come so close to nailing it. ‘Leave It’ creeps ever so slightly towards dance music during one section, almost reaching the hype levels of The Prodigy while opener ‘The Wickedest Ones’ provides the most memorable hooks yet seems to drag on just slightly too long.
Armed with the sound and personality from this record there is no doubt that PENGUSHUi will be an incredible band to watch live. The energy and gritty feel of PENGSHUi’s debut marks them out as an act to keep an eye on, and should be praised for making a modern grime sound relatable to those who traditionally stick to the sonically heavier end of music. It’s just a shame that they haven’t managed to quite provide the songs to go along with it.
Recommended Tracks: ‘Leave It’