Previously a member of Alicia Keys' gospel choir, a Manhattan punk group, and a boy band named Smartest People at Bard, New York singer/producer Chris Glover finally appears to have found his forte with his rather bizarre alias, Penguin Prison. His self-titled debut album shows little sign of his jack-of-all-trades musical background, as other than the downbeat acoustic closer, "Someone Got Everything," it's a full-throttled assault on the dancefloor that sits somewhere between the lush synth pop of '80s Pet Shop Boys, the camp Hi-NRG disco of Scissor Sisters, and the electro-funk of Justin Timberlake's last album. Packed full of Parisian house beats, shimmering synths, and glossy pop melodies, the likes of "Don't F*ck with My Money," "Fair Warning," and "Multi-Millionaire" are all utterly infectious and equally sleek feel-good party anthems that allow Glover to showcase his impressive falsetto tones. But the album only truly comes into its own when it throws a few curve balls, whether it's the skittering percussion and wobbly basslines of "Something I'm Not" merging into an authentic slice of classic acid house, the quirky banjo riff on the surging electro of "A Funny Thing," or the enchanting Prefab Sprout-esque harmonies on the dreamy new wave of "The Worse It Gets." There's very little here to move the heart as well as the feet, while it's hard to dispel the feeling that he might have missed the whole nu-synth boat by about two years, but while the likes of Frankmusik, Dan Black, and Tommy Sparks conjure up their next moves, Penguin Prison is a more than adequate stopgap for those wanting a fix of perfectly crafted retro pop. ~ Jon O'Brien, Rovi
Track samples provided courtesy of iTunes
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