By Yasmin Brown

Before their debut album was even a twinkle in their eye, PENGSHUi had already made quite a name for themselves. Since the release of their debut single ‘Control’ the band have found themselves appearing on festival lineups including Download, Boomtown and Glastonbury, as well as being given the nod of approval by Enter Shikari’s Rou Reynolds through social media. With that kind of backing, you could say that they have a lot to live up to with their debut, self-titled record. 

There’s no doubt that PENGSHUi are going to polarise music fans, so whether you believe they live up to this hype is solely dependent on which end of the spectrum you find yourself sitting. Their debut is a brash and somewhat unhinged collection of tracks that sees no stone left unturned. It’s a brave venture, and one that, technically, you’d struggle to fault, however the end result is a marmite situation. There is simply no sitting on the fence when it comes to this band.

From the offset, you can hear a mish-mash of influences – something that translates through the whole record – and it makes sense given that the three band members come from three very different backgrounds. From rock to jazz to reggae, Illaman, Fatty and Pravvy Prav have covered it all, and the album is an unapologetically brash reflection of the multiculturalism that makes up PENGSHUi.

If you had to pin it down, this self-titled record could be described as an amalgamation of rap, rock, techno and grime, but it’s so much more complex than that and you’ll quickly find your brain scrambled as you try to pull apart all the intricate pieces that make up this mental album. The dirty riffs, jarring synths, fast paced rapping and layered screams all contribute to what is one of the most adventurous and fearless releases you’ll have heard in a while. It’s the percussive element of the record, however – while understated at times – that is most vital to its impact, the synthetic beats hitting just as hard as any drum kit and driving each track forward into sonic madness. 

If we’re to nitpick any faults, it can be said that the choruses, while perfect for a live environment, are overly repetitive on record. On top of this, too, PENGSHUi have included four interludes, seemingly in an attempt to intermittently break up the fast pace of the album. While their name suggests relief from the chaos, however, they ultimately provide little respite and add little to the impact of the record, sadly falling forgotten into the back of your mind the moment they’re over. 

If there’s one album released in 2020 that highlights just how much the concept of genre is dead, it’s this one. Whatever you may think of it, it’s clear that PENGSHUi simply do not care. They’ve attacked this project with vigour and conviction, and have cleverly (whether intentional or not) opened themselves up to a world of music fans that cross endless genres. Not only is this record great to angrily scream along to at full blast when you’re stuck in agonising traffic, but its real beauty lies in the fact that it’ll hit just as hard at a rave as it will on stage at a hard rock festival. 

If this is PENGSHUi just starting out, we’re almost scared to see what could possibly come next.


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