Sparkling yet gauzy, Bad Penny is simultaneously breezy and ghostly, evoking pleasant recognition of—and nostalgia for—a dead pop sound that never really existed. Spectrals (known as 21-year-old Heckmondwike, England native Louis Jones in his daily life) politely acknowledges his debt to pop formalists like the Ronettes and Elvis Costello, and is keen to knit lounge music, doo-wop, and laid-back soul into concise pop nuggets that detail the ups-and-downs of his relationship with his girlfriend. One need not dread that this album’s hazy production is acting as a smokescreen to mask any shortcomings Jones might harbor as a songwriter or performer; his tunes would be just as fetching if recorded with state-of-the-art technology circa 1970. Instead, the record’s liberal application of echo imbues his music with an ethereal quality that washes all over the listener, resulting in a very relaxing aural experience. With his melodic knack and thrift-shop-debonair retro charm, Jones posits himself as a promising understudy to the similarly-inclined Britpop group Pulp.
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