UK indie rock group Penelope Isles is the product of sibling duo Lily and Jack Wolter. With their debut album, 2018’s When The Tide Creeps In, they carved out a niche of dynamic pop marked by contrast – blissful, mellow dream-pop interspersed with fuzzy, loud, melodic rock that gives equal bearing to their skills as vocalists, both on their own and in harmony, and as musicians and arrangers.
They toured exhaustively on the back of Tide, playing over 150 shows in 2019 in support of major acts like The Flaming Lips, but that all came to a halt once the pandemic began. Jack said that “we spent pretty much all of 2019 driving ourselves around Europe and America having some incredible adventures as a band and it seemed that everything since then had been falling apart.”
Their latest single “Sailing Still” was the product of that forced time off, which stood in stark contrast to their time on the road. Writing and recording new material was a way for them to process and recover from what they were dealing with. The song starts off small, with Lily singer close to the mic, backed by piano, reverb guitar, and little else. Yet the song quickly builds into something far larger, rapidly expanding into a massive melodic movement propped up by swaths of noise, which gives way to another verse. Lily handles all of the singing, and in the song’s middle section there is little more than voice and rhythm guitar, although a chorus of vocal effects creates the impression of there being more noise, until the song builds back up into a massive, epic instrumental conclusion.
“Sailing Still” is accompanied by a music video directed by Jack, which sees his sister travel around numerous locations across the UK. Both the video and the process behind it, which required daily traveling for a full week to shoot in so many locations, replicate the feel of being on tour.