‘Hide & Seek’ is the debut release from Mammoth Penguins (via the indie institution that is ‘Fortuna Pop!’). Fronted by Emma Kupa, formerly of the acclaimed indie-pop trio Standard Fare, ‘Hide And Seek’ comes on the back of a series of well received live shows and general media acclaim.
The album opens with the pumping ‘Work It Out’, which sets the tone wonderfully for the remainder of the release. The production itself is typical of guitar orientated indie pop, but it lends itself well to Mammoth Penguins’ catchy guitar hooks and melodies. It’s messy and it’s loud and Kupa sings like an old friend. From the self-doubt expressed in ‘Strength In My Leg’ to the ambiguous look at infidelity in ‘We Won’t Go There’ Kupa sounds like she’s known you for years. Unfortunately, momentum tends to run a little stale in places, and tracks seem to blend into insignificance. Having said that, the chaotic ending to the aforementioned ‘We Won’t Go There’ is well worth a second listen.
You often get the feeling that this is something of an Emma Kupa solo record as it’s her wonderful lyrical content, delivery and timing which are a compliment to the music. She truly gives this record the edge it needs to stand out in this ubiquitous genre.
Closing the album is the record’s finest track, ‘When I Was Your Age’; an anthem of inadequacy, encapsulating ‘Hide & Seek’ perfectly. Kupa bids us farewell with “I’m 28 years old now, what have I got to show? I have a job, I live in a rented house. I’m going nowhere”. It sums up the record to perfection – You’re not quite where you thought you would be, life isn’t bad but it’s not good. Perhaps you don’t have everything worked out just yet, but you’re getting there.
So this is just another drop in the ocean that is indie pop, but Mammoth Penguin posses enough poise, integrity and confidence to prove to be a refreshing listen. There are similarities to the likes of Weezer, Best Coast and The Willowz but it’s Kupa’s vocals, both venerable and brazen, that are the real driving force behind this record. She sings of the troubles and grievances found in early adulthood and it really resonates with the listener (being a twenty-something yourself helps…)
It’s a bittersweet, boisterous listen documenting the highs and lows of a second coming-of-age along with forced maturity. A great debut and certainly one to look out for live.