For me, personally, Heypenny have been growers. I wasn't immediately a fan of frontman Ben Elkins' vocal style, but as he and his crew have developed, I've grown more and more intrigued by their arrangements and melodies. On Tuesday, Heypenny officially released A Jillion Kicks, which you can stream and/or purchase via Bandcamp. Their release show is tomorrow, Feb. 26, at Mercy Lounge; Mikky Ekko, Natalie Prass & Action! appear in support. My pick, my friends:
It’s been a long time coming, but — after “a barnstormer session, redoing what had taken two years to track in a matter of five days” — local robot-rockers Heypenny finally have a new full-length. The characteristic excess and staccato, stream-of-consciousness vocals Heypenny have come to be known for still remain on A Jillion Kicks, but frontman Ben Elkins has branched out significantly. From quirky lyrical turns — as in “A Star for All the Kids,” when Elkins slips into rapid-fire Pig Latin — to the frantic, “Voodoo Child”-cribbing psychedelic power of “Water” and the playful, pitch-shifted vocals of “Ticket,” it’s clear that the ‘Penny are doing more than just playing off of their influences. They’re making their own contributions as well. It’s endearing, idiosyncratic synth-pop that pays homage to New Wave and electro-funk conventions, but tops it all with a bit of Information Age icing. As endlessly bubbly and occasionally childlike as A Jillion Kicks’ melodies and tongue-in-cheek lyrics may be, these tunes are always imbued with well-executed instrumentation and unique, dense tones. Also appearing are fellow locals Action!, Natalie Prass and Mikky Ekko, “all of whom will be joining us onstage,” sayeth Heypenny. No one’s ever accused these guys of thinking small.