‘Hide And Seek’ is the debut album from indie rock/pop outfit Mammoth Penguins, the new band fronted by Emma Kupa (Standard Fare). Having switched from bass/vocals in Standard Fare to lead guitar in Mammoth Penguins, Kupa has given herself more room to maneuver and expand the dimensions of her trademark, powerhouse vocals and Weezer esque songwriting skills to include catchy, melodic guitar hooks and occasional, flourishing guitar solo.
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Mammoth Penguins might not grab you immediately, which is curious: here’s a band trading stems of catchy old Weezer songs with the (non-)sensibilities of the Ergs!, with all their chugged chords and jubilant guitar upswings. It’s pop-punk meets garage in a marriage of melody, is ‘Hide And Seek’, but its barebones production and quiet resolve makes it feel like the band are working out the kinks as they go along -- rather than the final product, this sounds like the draft of a really catchy record.
With frontwoman Emma Kupa mainly singing on her own over loud riffs, quietly recorded bass and slacker percussion, ‘Hide And Seek’ sounds like something of an expanded solo record. Tracks like “Postcard” travel aimlessly before meeting up with a quick exit riff, while “Cries At The Movies” focuses in on Kupa’s thoughtful songwriting: talking about crying, she sings “She thinks it’s a sign of weakness / it makes her ashamed / I think there’s strength in feeling that we should not turn away” and manages to make it sound fluid within the song’s tempo. Kupa is propped as the focus of the record around tunes that maybe sound more full, a la Alison Weiss’ brand of personal pop-punk.
The further Mammoth Penguins strip back ‘Hide And Seek’, the more I like it: “We Won’t Go There” all but mutes the chords while letting Kupa wring out a simple but forceful chorus. It sounds like a jam, in a way: a simple, imperfect runthrough of a song no one’s too worried about perfecting -- the band freak the fuck out and go in for the solos, which is testament to how free this whole thing sounds.
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