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Tuesday 30 January 2024

Emperor Penguin - Gentlemen Thieves


In my review of the band's previous album, 2022's Sunday Carvery, I noted that Emperor Penguin had the happy knack of encompassing the history of Pop Rock whilst still sounding wonderfully original. I could have added that every album seems better than the last, no mean feat because few can do that and with such a high standard. 

That album, as with their previous albums, made our Best 100 Albums Of The Year and I have no doubt that this one will grace the 2024 one, although I will admit that after just finishing the 2023 Best Of marathon, I'm thankful that this is long in the distance. 

Sunday Carvery had a big hint of the 70s, if anything Gentleman Thieves feels more 60s UK Beat, but varnished with much more harmony. There are also adventures into Psych Pop, an area which the band particularly excel in. 

Having multi vocalists also adds to the variety and that variety also throws up some great surprises. I Wouldn't Put It Like That is an absolute gem of a song, jam packed with melody, riffs and great great vocals and it is a joint vocal. With a feel of New Wave Elvis Costello feel to the vocals, the second vocal is a tour de force from Lisa Mychols.

Mychols is noted for her Power Pop vocals and rightly so, but here a voice takes on a slightly different tone, more Pop Rock, Rock even, a little earthier maybe and it is an incredibly joyful addition that suits the song perfectly. The song is a tour de force. The album in no way hangs on this song, but it acts a great base to place everything around.

Sonnez les Matines is another song that arrives out of the blue, slightly Reggae, slightly Eastern and again chock full of ideas, Charlotte Guy adds awesome Backing Vocals. The song is done in a similar style to The Sun Said In 1/2. Compare that to Pipistrelle which is all New Wave Madness like and Driving Blind which is all 70s Classic Rock, a real wig out.

Ladybird is great late 60s fairy with a vocal that is a little Glam Rock, even shouty Roy Wood and even adds Wizard like Brass, The Persuaders has a real R and B mid 60s Bassline with a Bruce Foxton-ish Bass and works just as well as everything on the album does. 

Town Called Gone has a splendid Glam Rock instrumental track and a chorus to absolutely die for. Ladybird is wonderfully chaotic and Three More Years has a sort of Prog Riff accompanying wonderful Psych. Mychols returns on You Are My Atmosphere and sounds incredibly Kirsty MacColl and another inspired chorus and a jaw dropping Guitar solo.   

Let us talk about those choruses because many write them, but few offer the quality shown here. The album is built on the power and quality of these, they are wall to wall. You enjoy the verses and then the chorus just takes you up further.

The album is built around a theme of Gentleman Rogues, a theme well explained in the accompanying booklet. But this is no concept album, it is 12 individual songs with a loose thread. All those songs stand up on their own

Wonderfully, performed, arranged and produced, Gentlemen Thieves reveals mastery of the Art Of Songwriting and Variety. Emperor Penguin do get better and better, but I'm intrigued to know if they can follow this album. It is awe inspiring.

You can listen to and buy the album here. The CD is also available on the Kool Kat label here. You can find out more about the band here.



  1. Once again Don, thank you for another great Kool Kat artist review! You are a man of exquisite taste for sure!

  2. Hey Don, just wanted to thank you on behalf of the band for taking the time to give us this fantastic review! We’re really thrilled you like it so much. Very many thanks again, we will try and top it with the next one!