Earnest young chaps Penny & Sparrow release their sixth LP Finch through Latvian label I Love You Records. These two have long had the vibe of Simon & Garfunkel for the post-Bon Iver generation, and they don’t mess with the formula much on Finch. Gentle acoustic guitar, tight harmonies and quivering falsettos are the order of the day here.

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Finch by Penny & Sparrow
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5/10 Will 31 July 2019

In Mackenzie Crook's superb program 'The Detectorists', the main antagonists bear resemblance to Simon & Garfunkel. One is tall, blonde and gangly, and the other is squatter and wears a flat cap. These characters sprang to mind when I listened to Penny & Sparrow's* new album 'Finch'. I'm not saying it's a pale imitation but there are definitely similarities, with both using very clean, tight harmonies and striking guitar lines. 'Finch' is made up of eleven folk songs that have hyper-emotive, modern R&B-style vocals and some well-placed, more modern electronic instrumentation. 

This album will remind listeners of Bon Iver's folky phase, before he embarked upon his hushed electronica autotune odyssey. Both Andy Baxter and Kyle Jahnke seem to have picked some vocal habits and tics from the boy Vernon, right down to that soaring falsetto that he does so well. Baxter also has the irritating habit of occasionally omitting the first syllable of the odd word, replacing it with a glottal stop. It really grinds my gears and for all the times I've heard it crop up in songs, it has never sounded good. I suppose it's meant to convey the sense that the singer is so bowed by emotion that they can barely squeeze the words out but in the end it just sounds like they've got indigestion. 

There are some nice songs on this record and the harmonies are superb. 'Finch' is perhaps a little twee, but it's hard to stop that when making folk of this sort. There are also pointless affectations and obvious nods to other artists that I would omit. I hope Penny & Sparrow find their own voice soon. 

* Note to self - I assume these are Chris Martin's progeny, but do remember to check. 


  • Finch by Penny & Sparrow


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