Mammoth Penguins’ John Doe tells the story of the people who were close to a man who has faked his own death, only to return years later. That’s right – it’s a concept album. Mammoth Penguins formed in Cambridge in 2013. They released their debut album Hide & Seek in 2015 on the late great Fortuna Pop! label, putting them in the excellent company of bands such as Martha, Comet Gain and Chorusgirl. After playing shows across the U.K. and Germany, and a live session for Marc Riley’s BBC 6 Music radio show, the band hatched a plan to work with other musicians on a side project. This side project became the John Doe album.
Having written the songs, Mammoth Penguins invited some friends to contribute their ideas and talents to evoke the different perspectives of each person affected by the loss and return of the protagonist. Their contributions have built on the band’s characteristic three-piece stomp and Emma’s solo forays into soulful introspection, with keyboards, samples, loops and synths adding extra layers and unfamiliar arrangements to the sound. The band also decided to back up the story with samples and atmospherics, and Mark carried around a portable recorder everywhere he went for a month making surreptitious recordings of everyday life, from buttering toast to photocopying, which have wound their way into the rhythms of the songs. If you listen carefully you can hear the sounds of Ramsgate beach, recorded when the band played the Fortuna Pop gig in summer 2016. The result is an eclectic mix of indie-pop and folk electronica, with a bit of post-rock thrown in for good measure, with catchy choruses, evocative soundscapes and heart-wrenching harmonies.
The Line Manager
The Ex pt 2
Where Your At Is Where You Are CD: WIACD053