Every day since I first laid mine jaded eyes on the tight-wearing lothario Jean Penne two years ago at the Five Bells (RIP), I have dreamt about him at least one time a month. The masked South London raconteur is one of the city’s great musical curiosities, and on new single ‘Chicken Katsu Curry’ (listen here) we get the most fully realised penna yet.
Penne is a storyteller above all else. Equal parts Half Man Half Biscuit, Stewart Lee and the Shadow Ring, his allegories blend sharp parodies of the middle classes with surreal left turns. First person tales of the weird, his words are elegant and married perfectly with Casio tone (for the painfully alone) beats from one Michael Chip. ‘Chicken Katsu Curry’ is an 11 minute realisation of this, and catches the artist al dente.
The protagonist of ‘Chicken Katsu Curry’ is very much a JP archetype. London commuter yuppie driven to desperation by the banalities of life, Penne’s character is a benign simpleton. The magic of the track is thus; the boredom and banality of the every day is somehow enchanted and compelling when viewed through the lens of Jean Penne.
He thinks: “Owen Wilson is so funny and also a legend”. He loves the oak tree in his garden; “my own piece of history”. All his friends are “just my wife’s friends’ husbands – so really they’re just men”. Even though I have met this man a thousand times over, and I hate him, on ‘Chicken Katsu Curry’, I can’t get enough of his endeavours.
Spread your wings Jean Penne, and rise to the very top (where all of the history is).