Penny Roox – Mean

I bet that we’ve all seen enough in our lives to realise that the old adage, ‘Treat them mean, keep them keen’, has more than a semblance of truth. We’ve surely been left frustrated by friends who keep returning to partners who are clearly no good for them whilst an obvious match whimpers and wilts in the corner. Indeed, we might have even recognised such behaviour in ourselves with our predilection for the bad boy or the femme fatale.

Over the years, scientists with bigger brains than mine have tried (and sometimes failed) to explain why we love those that it’s harder to. And Robert Cialdini, author of ‘The Scarcity Principle’, probably hits the nail on head when suggesting that it works on the idea of ‘reactance’. We don’t like to be told no or be limited in any way. When we think we are going to miss out, be rejected, or be denied what we want, we react by wanting what we have been denied even more and trying even harder to get it.

Others have suggested that things are more valued by us if we’ve had to work harder to get them. And I can see some truth in that. But it does all seem ridiculously complicated when the nice boy or the girl next door waits patiently for their love to be reciprocated.

 

Penny Roox’s debut single, ‘Mean’, focuses on this phenomenon. The rising star from the Netherlands tells more in E-mail conversation. “Mean isn’t about someone in particular being mean to me.“, she says. “I wrote this song inspired by a conversation with one of my closest friends after a night out. It’s about always falling for the dickheads instead of the nice guys, about the thrill of rejection.

‘Mean’ is a fine showcase of Penny’s talent. It has a vintage feel; a dash of jazz in a pop serenade. It’s a slice of Springfield (Dusty) and a drizzle of Winehouse (Amy) that help to create the Roox whole. It’ll come as no surprise to regular readers of Sonic Breakfast that I love it. Perhaps if I was ambivalent about ‘Mean’, it would be more of a recommendation?

Penny lets me know about the state of play in the Netherlands. “The pandemic is still very real here,with everything still closed.“, she says. “I haven’t played a proper full band show for over a year now, but it gave me the peace of mind to finally release Mean and work on my own music. I made sure to write and record as much as possible so the plans of 2021 will be releasing a lot and hopefully start playing again.

Applying the logic from above, I couldn’t give a flying fuck about your Tuesday and I don’t care one jot if you like this song or not. 

Erin Pellnat – Neighborhood Boys

I receive an E-mail from Erin Pellnat. It catches my eye one morning when I’m on the train heading into Birmingham.

Hello Sean“, says Erin.  “I write to introduce you to “Neighborhood Boys,”  a song about falling in love with a guy on a bus — but he gets off at his stop and leaves me with the neighborhood boys on the bus.” 

There’s a beautiful simplicity about Erin’s approach. I’m not averse to deep, philosophical songs about the meaning of life but sometimes such tunes can feel complicated, aloof and emotion-less. Sometimes, you want a simple premise that’ll tug at your heartstrings a bit; you want a three minute segment from your favourite tearjerker of a film; you want glorious romance albeit of an unrequited kind.

I take a listen to Erin’s track. There’s something about her voice that gets me. There’s no over-the-top warbles or ridiculous squeezing of pitch. It’s all very considered and mannered. Yet it’s in that very understated vocal that the emotion (of which there’s plenty) comes through. In many ways, for me at least, it invokes a similar sort of feel to that I get when I listen to the late 1960’s work of Bobbie Gentry or Dusty Springfield. And that’s high praise. 

I notice when I check back through my E-mails that Erin had sent me one previously to highlight the release of her earlier EP, Dream In Color. Rudely, I’d not even replied to that. I’m glad that Erin didn’t get the hump with me for that and kept sending me mails. It pays to be persistent. 

I wonder if ultimately persistence will pay off for Erin with the guy on the bus? I guess we’ll have to watch this space!